Si­mon Dal­low talks about be­ing moved to tears at the At­ti­tude Awards.

1 News At 6pm an­chor Si­mon Dal­low (right) tells why host­ing the At­ti­tude Awards is an in­cred­i­bly mov­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Kerry Har­vey re­ports.

The TV Guide - - CONCERT -

Si­mon Dal­low knows first­hand the im­pact meet­ing some­one fa­mous can have on young peo­ple.

At the age of just eight, the 1 News At 6pm pre­sen­ter – who was rep­re­sent­ing Auck­land school­child­ren – met Amer­i­can en­ter­tainer Danny Kaye.

“It was so mi­nor, I’m prob­a­bly the only per­son in New Zealand who re­mem­bers,” Dal­low says.

“For a kid, you can have life­long mem­o­ries that are formed very sim­ply through the kind ac­tions of oth­ers.”

Kaye was an Amer­i­can ac­tor and singer who hosted his own multi-Emmy Award-win­ning show in the 1960s. He was also the first am­bas­sador-at-large for Unicef and worked to im­prove the lot of im­pov­er­ished and dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren around the world.

Dal­low, too, is com­mit­ted to help­ing young peo­ple achieve their po­ten­tial.

“I grew up in West Auck­land where I wit­nessed the deaths – sui­cides – of sev­eral of my peers, young peo­ple with in­cred­i­ble po­ten­tial who had al­ready done some amaz­ing things and their tal­ents were not nur­tured be­cause of their en­vi­ron­ment and up­bring­ing and cir­cum­stances,” he says.

“Many of them never reached their po­ten­tial be­cause it wasn’t eco­nom­i­cally vi­able or they didn’t have the mo­ti­va­tion or they didn’t have the sup­port and back­ground.”

Dal­low doesn’t like to pub­li­cise the work he does with char­i­ties but when it comes to this week’s At­ti­tude Awards, he is front and cen­tre, host­ing the tele­vised awards cer­e­mony for the 10th year in a row. The awards cel­e­brate the achieve­ments of New Zealan­ders liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties, recog­nis­ing artists, ath­letes, em­ploy­ers, young peo­ple and game-chang­ers. “The mo­ment you get in­volved, you just see all these amaz­ing peo­ple do­ing in­cred­i­ble things. “I won’t pre­tend that I haven’t ended up in tears on stage at the awards be­fore. It’s an in­cred­i­bly mov­ing event,” Dal­low says. “Of course, all the hy­per­bole comes out but these peo­ple are just so in­spir­ing. I can’t get around the cliches, but they do things that you are just stag­gered by. It gives you some real per­spec­tive and pro­por­tion on your own life.” What im­presses him the most is how pos­i­tive the nom­i­nees are. “You don’t come across many peo­ple there who feel sorry for them­selves, put it that way,” he says. “It’s one of the most uplift­ing nights of the year. It’s a long, hard day but the sto­ries that keep com­ing out – you al­ways think you’ve heard the ul­ti­mate in hu­man en­deav­our and over­com­ing odds and then there’s an­other one, and an­other one. “On that night pretty much ev­ery­one of them there is a su­per­star and you do feel quite in­ad­e­quate ... or I do.”

Dal­low is also a long-time sup­porter of Va­ri­ety NZ, which has been help­ing im­prove the lives of Kiwi kids for decades. He was re­cruited to help with the char­ity’s best-known event, The Va­ri­ety Bash – now the Tril­lian Trek – by then TVNZ sports pre­sen­ter, the late Philip Leish­man, 24 years ago and has been vice-pa­tron for al­most a decade now.

While he doesn’t ac­tively seek pub­lic­ity for the work he does with Va­ri­ety, Dal­low says be­ing one of New Zealand’s best-known faces can have its ad­van­tages when it comes to drum­ming up sup­port for the group’s projects.

“On the cor­po­rate side it helps, but kids don’t give a rat’s arse,” he says.

“I’m prob­a­bly the last per­son in tele­vi­sion they’d like to see but it all adds to it.

“The par­ents are much more likely to recog­nise me.”

He says he prob­a­bly gets as much as – if not more than – the chil­dren out of the ac­tiv­i­ties he takes part in.

“This week­end, for in­stance, we are tak­ing a group of kids over to Wai­heke Is­land and we’re tak­ing them on an eco zip – zip-lin­ing through the for­est canopy,” he says.

“We’ve done this be­fore and some of those kids have a) never been in cen­tral Auck­land, and b) never seen the wa­ter, so this will be a whole new ex­pe­ri­ence for them.

“It puts a big smile on their faces, and thanks to all these spon­sors and trekkers, we give them a great day.

“Bring­ing a smile to those kids’ faces is pretty uplift­ing. I could prob­a­bly say it’s self­ish, be­cause I get to feel good about see­ing those kids smile.”

“I won’t pre­tend that I haven’t ended up in tears on stage at the awards be­fore. It’s an in­cred­i­bly mov­ing event.”

– Si­mon Dal­low

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