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.
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