Former ‘Allo ‘Allo! star Vicky Michelle MBE on her charity work and life in West Essex
PUBLISHED: 12:45 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:45 04 June 2020
As all parts of society are impacted by the restrictions put in place to cope with Coronavirus in our communities, Holly Louise Eells talks to Essex girl Vicki Michelle MBE about her experience, her positivity and how we can help those in need
Living in this strange new life of lockdown, many of us have been waking up most days feeling a bit ‘out of sorts’.
But for this particular symptom of the virus, there is a cure and it goes by the name of Vicki Michelle MBE. ‘I am feeling fabulous. I’m fine. I’m taking everything and every day as it comes,’ she says.
Vicki, known worldwide for her role as sexy waitress Yvette Carter in the award-winning British comedy series ‘Allo ‘Allo’, is oozing positivity and doesn’t believe in negativity.
‘We’ve just got to get on with it and not moan,’ says Vicki. ‘What’s so funny is that everyone who works wants to be off work, then they are given the opportunity to be off work, and then they moan about it. It really makes me laugh,’ she says.
‘Surely we all just want to be safe?’ she adds. ‘The most important thing is your health. I think the government has done brilliantly by trying to compensate people. My daughter, Lou, is working for a PR firm and before the announcement, they didn’t know if they would have to lay everyone off.’
Since her theatrical success of the 1980s, Vicki has enjoyed an extensive and successful career in television, radio, theatre, presenting and film.
‘Now is a difficult time for me too,’ she adds. ‘I have got my company, Trading Faces [that she runs with two of her sisters Susie and Ann Michelle], which supplies celebrities for after-dinner speaking, motivational speakers and presentations, but everything is cancelled.’
However, she is quick to add the struggles actors and musicians face in this current situation too.
‘What hasn’t been addressed enough is the actors and the musicians who have no work. They get really bad pay anyway, and they are not working all the time, so I think it is really important to look after them too.’
On the topic of caring for others and helping those in need, Vicki still dedicates a lot of her time to various local and major UK charities. ‘I am working with several local charities at the moment including AA Dog Rescue, Haven House and The Dream Factory.
‘The situation is really sad for charities because a lot of them are not able to host events or functions, which helps to fund them. It is really harsh and we need to support them,’ she explains.
Vicki’s loving behaviour and active charity work was acknowledged in 2010 when she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in The Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to charity.
Vicki continues: ‘I always try to look on the bright side of life. The earth is getting better with cleaner air, less pollution, and other great benefits are happening now as there is not so much travel all over the world. So I think that is really great news.
‘Hopefully this current situation will bring out the camaraderie in the British people as we all help each other. Sometimes it seems like we have become a very selfish nation and everything is very fast, but I do think there are some amazing, lovely people out there too, who bring out the good side of a situation. Now is the time to help each other.’
Vicki has lived in Essex all of her life and shares her West Essex home with cameraman husband Graham Flower, and her daughter, Louise (Lou) lives very nearby. ‘I have lived in Essex all of my life and I know lots of people around here,’ Vicki adds. ‘People in Essex help each other and they have big hearts.
‘I’ve been ringing a lot of older people that I know or friends who are by themselves, asking if they need anything. People from Essex are happy, smiley and helpful, we talk to each other and I like chatting to everyone,’ she laughs.
‘From every person I chat to, I’ve learnt something new. Recently, my lovely daughter helped a 90-year-old lady because her carer was ill. She was getting her newspaper and dropping it in. Now she’s worried about dropping the newspaper off because she doesn’t want to get too near, but she has given her number instead just incase the lady needs anything from her.
‘But that’s my kid, she’s really good; she’s such a caring person. Also, Lou and her friend Danny have been putting notes through people’s doors to say if anyone needs anything just ring them and they will help.’
With the impact that Coronavirus is having on our daily lives, people are finding different ways to fill their free time and embracing new skills.
‘Now there is no excuse to put things off and say I will do it tomorrow,’ Vicki says with a laugh. ‘I am just getting on with everything that needs to be done, like sorting out paperwork, which I hate.
‘There was a great quote about husbands, “Thoughts and prayers going out to all the married men who have spent months saying I will do that when I have time!” I thought that was brilliant.’
I had to ask, what is her husband doing now? ‘I’ve got him in the garden chopping stuff down. He keeps sitting down and I say, “don’t sit down there’s more to do!”’ says Vicki. ‘Personally, I am enjoying the garden at the moment and thank goodness the weather is good.’
Now is also the time for reflection and to realise how privileged we really are, believes Vicki. ‘I have always appreciated what I have got, that’s how I was brought up,’ she explains.
‘I am lucky enough to have a garden to watch the birds, it makes me happy. I’m also very grateful and thankful, and it does make you appreciate what you have got at times like this, and what you want to hold onto as well.’