The former Strictly star and racing car driver Jodie Kidd encourages others to enjoy every second with their family or loved one following a cancer diagnosis.
We asked her to tell us all about her new campaign and the heartbreaking story behind why she wanted to get involved…
Tell us about Time of your life campaign and why you wanted to get involved…
I lost my sister-in-law Sandy from pancreatic cancer last year and I really wanted to lend my voice to this campaign and the awareness that when a loved one or family member get a diagnosis that’s terminal, how important it is to have quality time. Myself and my family were like, ‘Oh no she’s going to beat it’ and we were not really facing it. We thought she was going to be fine then she got very poorly, very quickly and unfortunately she didn’t make it. So I really want people to know that if they are in that horrific situation, that precious time that they have with their family or loved one is SO important because you just don’t know how quickly that end can happen. I just want everyone to enjoy every second.
How long was it from the diagnosis to her death?
She was in her 50s and was a blooming trouper who lived just under a year with the disease. Even very much towards the end there was still hope – a lot of people have that attitude – I just wish I’d gone out and done more things and instead of embracing it. I know she wanted to go and do a lot of things and we were like, ‘Oh well, next week’ and because you’re so focused on a person getting better, you’re not even allowing that thought into your mind. So this is a campaign I want people to go those precious days, minutes, hours, or weeks and really make the most of them. Even though Sandy was in hospital for two months, I feel we could have done so much more.
What kind of things didn’t she get chance to do?
She was so strong but she almost didn’t want any of us to know how poorly she was, so it wasn’t like she was saying, ‘I would like to go out to the country for one last time or I want to go and do this for one last time’ it was very much this isn’t going to happen, everyone was being so strong and not realising what was in front of us, so it wasn’t like she said what she wanted to do and we didn’t do it, it was we were all going this is not happening.
Has this whole experience changed you in anyway?
Anyone that’s lost someone they love and adore through cancer will forever change you because it’s such a horrific thing to go through, it’s terrifying for everybody. The person that gets diagnosed, the family, the loved ones, the whole world comes to a grinding halt and nothing makes sense anymore. It’s horrific thing to go through and of course it will forever change all of us as a family but that’s why I so want to make sure everyone has that wonderful precious time and really nurtures it.
How do you remember her?
She’s not been gone that long, she’s talked about endlessly and missed endlessly but we’ve just got to keep going forward, it’s horrific for anyone to lose any family member in any kind of way. Of course she’s missed every second.
What extra things should there be to help families?
The charities are fantastic in what they do with that support. When someone does get diagnosed, your whole life just completely stops and you have to deal with what’s in front of you every second. There are wonderful people that help you through this, the nurses, the doctors, the support systems are there, and they are a God send because it’s such a horrific time but they really are wonderful. So I give many thanks to those people that support people going through the horror of a terminal diagnosis.
Have you kept up with racing driving?
Yeah I have a bit, I did the hill climb at Goodwood, I recently went to Italy to do some racing there for celebrating everything Italian, with the most gorgeous cars in the world including Lamborghinis. I’m still doing bits of racing but I’m busy opening my pub so things have been put on the back burner.
Are there more women in that sport these days?
It’s getting there slowly – it is a very male world but very slowly women are getting there. You’ve got head of constructors that run teams that are women, you’ve got women that are much more in the infrastructure, some really good drivers like Suzy Wolf. Another lady called Carmen Jorda, she’s fantastic, so it’s slowly happening. It’s going to be a tough thing but we’ve seen some ladies compete in some Formula 1’s in the last year so that’s great, albeit a slow process but we’re slowly taking over. Seeing women be so successful in sport and in business is great.
Women are better drivers because they listen instead of thinking they know it all…
Absolutely, that’s what the guy that taught me racing said and we have much more finesse instead of ego and testosterone, we’re quick around the track.
Challenge anyone to a race and keep your skills undercover?
At the beginning maybe but right now everyone wants to race me, and beat me and a lot of them do.
Have you kept up with Strictly?
I was working so I missed it but I heard all about it and it seems like a really good line up, really missing poor wonderful Brucey, he was so amazing, what a wonderful character, I can’t wait I’ll probably go back on catch up and watch it, it was such a great series, I was honoured to be a part of it and I learnt so much.
Do you still dance?
Not really, but I think the last time I danced with my son one Sunday night, so I haven’t really been in that environment but it’s certainly taught me a few moves that I pull out every now and then.
What was the dancing for?
I was at Goodwood for revival and we were doing an after party at my pub in Sussex, we were dancing to 1940s music because the revival was all about that era so I was teaching him to do some jiving.
Are the dancing genes running in the family?
Definitely not! [laughs]
As previous Celebrity MasterChef finalist, did you watch any of it this year?
I was really upset when Rachel Stevens didn’t make it through because I thought she was really talented, it’s such a fantastic series and because I did that and got to the final so many things have happened from it and I’m now running my own restaurant. It’s a wonderful door that was opened into the world of culinary treat and it was a brilliant show, I learnt so much, and I think they’ve done really good this year.
Is there a secret to making the final?
You’ve got to have a little bit of luck on your side, you’ve got to have skills and you’ve got to work hard and you’ve got to try and keep calm in those tricky one hour cooking sessions you have and just try and keep everything methodically, and don’t panic.
Do you have a Signature dish?
I haven’t done a soufflé in the pub yet – we’ve got an amazing Michelin star chef in the pub so I’m very much watching a lot of what he does. I’m a chief chopper and chip maker, I’ve been upgraded to making the chips which is great – next I’ll be onto the Haddock and Mackerel but not yet – he doesn’t trust me.
You could have some themed nights at the pub with the food and the dancing…
Yeah we could do
How do you juggle work with being a mum?
It is very difficult being at every single school run and because we live in the countryside and today I’m working in London, I’m going to miss picking him up from school but I’ve got an amazing support system which is really important. It allows me to be able to work the hours that I do and we have wonderful quality time together but I have to thank the people that are around me and the wonderful godparents are very supportive, so it’s an amazing team that I’m very blessed with that’s made him a happy young lad.
He’ll want to help you pull pints when he’s old enough…
Probably, I’m sure he will think mum’s pretty cool that she owns a pub. He’s a lovely lad, I’m very blessed.
Plans to expand the venture?
I don’t do things by half. We’ve only been open a few months and we’re fully booked for almost 4-5 weeks in advance now, and the customers are super happy and the pub side is brilliant, it’s going really well, so I’m loving going to work and doing that – it’s really fulfilling.
Maybe soon, we’re doing a lot with food around the pub. I’m growing a lot of my own vegetable in my vegetable garden so trying to make it as organic and ethos sustainable, we are only using local organic meat so we’re massive herb gardens and making our own bitters, so there are a lot of stuff going in and hard work and if its successful then who knows. When we get our mackerel we can actually tell you the time it was caught and the name of the fisherman. We’ve got a really nice ethos of the way we’re presenting, cooking and supporting our village.
Impressed yourself with skills?
Every day I’m learning something new, when you’ve got a Michelin star chef behind you you’re going ah-ha, you cook the carrots in stock rather than water, and you pick up tips like that. I’m finding out why food is so damn tasty.
Do your friends panic about inviting you round for dinner in case you don’t like it?
I’ve not had a night off in the last six months, I’m pulling pints at the moment and welcoming guests and making sure everyone is having a lovely customer experience. But no I don’t think anyone is panicking too much.
What would be your advice for your 17-year-old self?
I’ve made tonnes of mistakes but that’s what’s made me who I am now and if I hadn’t have made those mistakes or done those crazy things as a teenager that I wouldn’t be as level headed now, I don’t know but every mistake I’ve made has been a massive learning curve. It would be lovely not to make mistakes but I don’t think life would be as interesting. I don’t look back, it’s all about looking forward and treasuring every second.
Time Of My Life Campaign is asking for the public to show their support for incurable cancer patients being given access to treatments that could give them extra time by sharing the campaign videos with the #TimeOfMyLife.