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Noddy Holder Talks Charity And Dressing Up As A Santa

Jonathan Schofield talks to the Slade graduate

Published on November 7th 2011.


Noddy Holder Talks Charity And Dressing Up As A Santa

YOU can’t help but like Noddy Holder, the ex glam rocking Slade frontman who's chosen to live in the Manchester area.

Now 65 years of age, there’s such a merry twinkle in his eyes and such an easy smile, that no matter the type of day you’re having you end up grinning along with him. 

“I work a lot with NSPCC. Most of December I’m in red it seems, as Father Christmas. I get a rash from the beard.”

I’m meeting up with him in a booth in Australasia, to talk Streetsmart charity. So what’s it all about? 

“Streetsmart raises money for homeless people,” he says. “It sends the money it collects to projects in Manchester every year such as The Booth Centre. I got involved seven years ago. I thought the charity was needed. I also liked the fact that every penny raised goes to the charity and isn't deflected into an administrative blackhole. Working with the charity has really opened my eyes.” 

In what way I ask.

“Well take an event we do every Christmas. We put on a lunch at Jon Grieves’ place in Castlefield, Choice – he gives the homeless a top meal for free. It’s great fun but it also makes me think about how - with a few wrong turns here and there – I could have been on the street. For most people, you’re only three paydays from being homeless. And being homeless doesn’t mean you’ve been down and out all your life either. 

“At the lunch you meet people such as a solicitor who lost his business, then his wife, then his home and everything he knew and ended up on the streets. One girl I’ve met was from New Zealand and had come to the UK to go to university and be an actress but it had all gone wrong. Now her pride won’t allow her to let her parents know her plight. She can’t go home. There are a lot of people with psychological damage out there.” 

So how’s the Streetsmart idea catching on in Manchester. 

“Slower than we thought,” says Holder.  “We’ve had too few restaurants taking part. I don’t know why this should be. Cities such as Oxford and Derby, much smaller, get more restaurants involved. Leeds and Edinburgh raise a lot more money. I don’t understand the low representation in Manchester. You could say it was charity fatigue if we didn’t have other cities to compare with. It’s a really odd one. But at least we have nineteen really strong participants. (there’s a list below).”

Noddy

The conversation strays from Streetsmart to his other charity work.

“I work a lot with NSPCC. Most of December I’m in red it seems, as Father Christmas. I get a rash from the beard.” 

I suggest that given his hair colour now, he might grow the beard naturally and really live the part. Maybe hire some elves. 

“You’re right,” he laughs. 

“He was called a National Treasure on the Radcliffe and Maconie Radio 2 show the other day,” says a Streetsmart representative from a booth close by. 

Holder laughs, “Not sure about that. Although I do get great reactions from the public, and I have been called far worse.” 

In what way, I ask. Surely he’s showered with universal affection? 

“Yes, mostly people are really kind, but you get the odd person who directs a dig at you. Actually my wife probably gets it worse, people who do that seem to feel it’s easier to say things to her than to my face. One recent comment was, ‘What’s it like being married to the man who came up with the worst Christmas song ever?’” 

Holder pauses.

“Then again he may have had a point,” he adds, laughing. 

“What Christmas song?" I say. "I didn’t even know you’d written a Christmas song.”  

More laughter. 

Holder shares the odd reminisce about the 70s heyday of Slade when Holder lived in the same flats as Queen. “That Freddie Mercury was always round cadging cups of tea,” he says, before returning to his charity and promotional work.

One has really caught his imagination. 

“I’m headlining British Sausage Week this year,” he says. “Not bad eh? I’m going to love going round the country tasting sausage.” 

“Crikey,” I say, before we return to Streetsmart. 

“Helping out at this charity brings you down to earth with a bump,” Holder reiterates. “We need things like Streetsmart. I’ll say it again but what I like is that every penny goes to where it should with us. And all it takes is a pound on the bill that you put in an envelope on the table. Just one pound on a meal out at the end of the meal. Is that too much to ask?” says National Treasure Noddy Santa Sausage Holder. "We could do with a few more restaurants on the list though."

The full Manchester Streetsmart participating restaurants list list is:   

Australasia

Blackdog Ballroom

Bacchanalia

Choice

Damson

Gusto Didsbury

Grill on the Alley

Oast House

Parlour

The Lime Tree

The Olive Press

The Rose Garden

Second Floor Harvey Nichols

Selfridges

Smoak Bar & Grill at Malmaison

Southern Eleven

TeaCup

Vertigo

Yang Sing

Hanging Kebab At Oast HouseHanging Kebab At Oast House

More about Streetsmart

Established in 1998, StreetSmart’s principal fundraising scheme is run in all the major UK cities during November and December. Participating restaurants add one pound to the full bill of each table during the Christmas period and, thanks to generous sponsorship of Deutsche Bank, all the money goes to various homeless charities in each city.

It raises money for people who are genuinely homeless and ties in with various proven initiatives that give them an opportunity to regain some control and dignity over their lives through projects such as the The Booth Centre, Mustard Tree and the Wellspring Project in Manchester. 

Last year StreetSmart raised £465,000 in 520 restaurants in the UK. But whereas Leeds and Edinburgh raised £23k, Manchester only managed £13.5k.

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