A touch of Klass
PUBLISHED: 15:25 25 July 2013
In the terrible, unforgiving conditions of the slums of Manila, Myleene Klass wept alongside a grieving mum whose seven-month-old son had just died of pneumonia.
The Norfolk-born star was in the Philippines earlier this year in her role as an ambassador for charity Save the Children as part of a campaign to promote the benefits of breast-feeding and dangers of making formula milk with dirty water. With more than 1.7 million children living in the country’s slums, the visit struck a particularly powerful resonance with Myleene, who has two children herself and whose mother is Filipino. Visibly shocked by the terrible conditions and high levels of child mortality which she was confronted by, it has further strengthened her commitment to the charity.
Her role with Save the Children marks a busy year for Gorleston girl Myleene, who has two daughters Ava and Hero and who got married at St John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Norwich in 2011.
Her latest television role sees her helping to find the next presenter of Blue Peter on BBC show You Decide, she has just launched her 10th collection of her kids’ clothing range for Mothercare and will soon be releasing a new album.
Myleene, who attended Cliff Park High School in Gorleston and Great Yarmouth College, started her showbiz career aged 13 at Yarmouth’s Britannia Theatre in the Great Yarmouth Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society’s production of South Pacific.
But it was on television show Popstars that she sprung to fame, some 12 years ago, when she won a place in the band Hear’say and scored a number one hit. She went on to have a successful career as a respected classical musician, model, presenter and TV - including a starring role on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here - and she shows little sign of slowing down.
Now on our screens helping to choose the next Blue Peter presenter, she admits that having loved the show as a child she is nervous about the responsibility. The series on CBBC follows 10 presenting hopefuls as they compete through a series of challenge-based heats, with viewers having the final say on who will win the dream job.
“It’s a huge privilege to be involved in selecting the next Blue Peter presenter and it’s a difficult task that weighs heavy on my shoulders. Everyone remembers the Blue Peter presenter they grew up with and I want to make sure I choose someone who will inspire the next generation – and they should be handy with the sticky-backed plastic too,” she laughs.
Last year she was made an ambassador for Save the Children and has been a very active and vocal supporter of the work the charity is doing.
“As a mother of two young children myself, I understand only too well that nothing in life is more important than the health and wellbeing of your children. I am honoured to be able to draw attention to the great work that Save the Children is doing every day to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children and their families across the world.”
Her first overseas trip with Save the Children was to the Modhubag slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to promote the campaign No Child Born to Die which aims to prevent eight million of the world’s poorest children dying each year from preventable diseases.
“I was very emotional throughout my trip in Bangladesh, particularly when I came face to face with the children struggling to survive on tiny amounts of food. I have two small girls and I couldn’t believe that some of the babies that I met of the same age were half the size of Ava and Hero.
“Over half of the population of Bangladesh live on less than $1 per day. Mothers there are totally helpless, unable to afford the costs of food that their children need. Babies are literally wasting away in front of their parents’ eyes simply because they’re not getting enough of the right things to eat. Millions need our help,” she says. “That’s why I’m supporting Save the Children’s push for a world hunger summit to tackle this crisis”
Last month, she played a key role in the huge IF rally held in London’s Hyde Park to promote the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign – a coming together of charities and organisations calling on world leaders to end hunger.
The event, which she co-hosted, attracted almost 50,000 people who gathered to hear messages from film director Danny Boyle, American Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, former Archbishop of Canterbury and chairman of Christian Aid Rowan Williams, along with many other celebrity messages.
The rally kicked of IF’s 10-day campaign of pressure and awareness leading up to the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
Away from her charity commitments, recently divorced Myleene has just signed a new record deal and her next release – her fourth classical album – will be of Andrew Lloyd Webber songs performed on piano with a full orchestra. She says she loved being back in the studio and that it was a huge privilege to record the songs which she grew up listening to, and she laughs, even sang at “many an audition back in the day”.
The 10th collection for her children’s fashion range Baby K for Mothercare has also just been launched.
“Children’s fashion is a passion of mine,” she says. “It’s been amazing to work in collaboration - exclusively with Mothercare over the last five years to create a range of clothes designed especially for children that are stylish yet still practical and affordable.”
For more information about the IF campaign, see enoughfoodif.org.