Ali­son Stead­man

Much-loved ac­tress Ali­son Stead­man tells how she has never for­got­ten the sup­port of Marie Curie Nurses when her fam­ily faced can­cer

YOURS (UK) - - Content - By Ali­son James

Although it’s 23 years since Ali­son Stead­man’s beloved mum Mar­jorie passed away from pan­cre­atic can­cer, she’s never for­got­ten the help and sup­port her and her fam­ily re­ceived from the Marie Curie nurses. And it’s some­thing she will al­ways be grate­ful for. “Pan­cre­atic can­cer is one of the worst can­cers as it’s very hard to di­ag­nose be­cause it of­ten doesn’t show it­self un­til it’s too late – this was the case with Mum,” says Ali­son. “It’s hard

to man­age and the sis­ter in charge at the hospi­tal where Mum was be­ing treated rec­om­mended that Marie Curie nurses be called in. The sis­ter said she would get the best pos­si­ble care from them – and she did. They took care of her in hospi­tal and at home but she also spent a lot of time in a Marie Curie hos­pice. That was an amaz­ing place and the at­mos­phere was very dif­fer­ent to hospi­tal. So, I know from ex­pe­ri­ence the pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence Marie Curie nurses can make.

“Mum told me that they had helped her to live even though she was dy­ing. They did more than look af­ter her, they took away her fear, man­aged her pain and their kind­ness and gen­tle­ness were just what she needed. They were such a calm­ing in­flu­ence and looked af­ter the whole fam­ily. I’ll never be able to thank them enough.”

Be­ing some­thing of a national trea­sure, Ali­son must get ap­proached by many char­i­ties. How does she choose which to sup­port?

“You have to pri­ori­tise,” she says. “If I said yes to every­thing, I wouldn’t be able to do any­thing else – and I have a lot of work to do. It de­pends what’s im­por­tant to you – and bod­ies like Marie Curie are im­por­tant to us all. Can­cer is so preva­lent these days. I’m not a doc­tor or sci­en­tist but I have my own the­o­ries as to why this may be. It seems to me that as hu­man be­ings we use and in­gest more chem­i­cals – in our food, in our homes, in the en­vi­ron­ment. Peo­ple with can­cer need spe­cific help; Marie Curie nurses can pro­vide this at home, in hospi­tal and at their won­der­ful hos­pices.” When it comes to work, her very funny sit­com, Hold the Sun­set, co-star­ring John Cleese, has just fin­ished on BBC1 and she’s cur­rently film­ing the new ITV drama, But­ter­fly, which goes out later this year. At 71, she seems busier than ever. “When my agent rings with some­thing new, I think, ‘Ooh, what’s that?’ she smiles. “I’m still ex­cited about work, still en­thu­si­as­tic. Apart from the TV I’ve been do­ing, I re­cently did a short film. It wasn’t well paid but I wanted to do it be­cause I thought it would be an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – and it was. I was play­ing a woman in her 80s and had to age up, and it’s al­ways a chal­lenge to get that right. I also wanted to do it be­cause my son, Leo, makes short films and I know how dif­fi­cult it can be to get them off the ground.

“I think act­ing helps keep you young; I have an ac­tress friend who’s 82 and she can never wait for her next job. Then there’s the in­cred­i­ble June Whit­field. A few years ago, I worked with her on the TV com­edy Boomers and I re­mem­ber ask­ing her where she’d bought her jeans be­cause they were ab­so­lutely gor­geous. How of­ten do you say some­thing like that to a 90-yearold? June’s a real ex­am­ple to us all.” As well as act­ing, Ali­son would love to write another chil­dren’s book. Her first one, Spi­der, was pub­lished last au­tumn. “I’m hop­ing it will hap­pen,” she says. “I ac­tu­ally had a very funny ex­pe­ri­ence with Spi­der. My niece is a teach­ing as­sis­tant in Swin­don and she asked me to come and sign some books, chat to the kids and read some of the story to them. There were about 70 chil­dren, aged be­tween four and seven, all sit­ting cross legged on the floor and star­ing at me. It was quite scary! I said, ‘Hello, I’m Ali­son Stead­man and I’ve writ­ten a book called Spi­der. Now how many of you are scared of spi­ders?’ About 70 per cent put their hands up so I started talk­ing to them about spi­ders and how we shouldn’t be fright­ened of them. Sud­denly this lit­tle girl sit­ting in the front row pipes up, ‘When are you go­ing to read the book? I’m bored! I thought you were here to read the book!’ I replied, ‘You know, I think I’ll do just that!’”

Ali­son has her own lit­tle per­son in her life – her seven-month-old grand­son, Fred­die. “I get to see quite a lot of him as he only lives about a 20-minute drive away,” she beams. “It’s lovely – just the best thing to have this lit­tle per­son on your shoul­der. We were at a fam­ily wed­ding re­cently and when the baby got a bit tired, I took him up to my room. My son Toby, Fred­die’s dad, later told me that Fred­die had loads of my makeup over his baby-gro be­cause I’d been kiss­ing and hug­ging him – and it be­ing a wed­ding, I had more make-up on than usual! Toby said, ‘Ob­vi­ously it’s lovely you’re cud­dling him, Mum, but can you try not to rub make-up on him!’ I replied, ‘Oh never mind, it’ll come out in the wash!’”

‘I know from ex­pe­ri­ence the pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence that Marie Curie nurses can make’

Ali­son with mum Mar­jorie, who was cared for by Marie Curie nurses

ali­son with marie Curie nurse Paula, one of more than 2,000 ded­i­cated nurses who work for the char­ity

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