These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Friday, January 21, 2011

THE SECRET MILLIONAIRE

Printed in the Southern League Central Division match v Arlesey Town Tuesday 18th January 2011. We lost 3-0 in front of 267.

It’s not often a millionaire comes up to where you work and hands over a cheque for seven and a half grand. But that’s what happened to me a few months back. It was part of the ‘The Secret Millionaire’, one of Channel 4’s flagship programmes where a millionaire goes undercover and looks for deserving charities and people to give their cash too. The programme works because it goes to the underbelly of Britain, pulls on the heart strings and has a happy tear-jerking ending.
So it was one sunny day I received a phone call from researchers who told me they were doing a programme about charities suffering under the recession. All very worthy but not exactly ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. To further their research we of course had to ‘network’ in a pub. I even got to have a few pints with the director and the brains behind ‘Spitting Image.’ The next call was to say that they would like to film at our garden project and would it be ok to bring along a volunteer who has depression, was sleeping in a camper van on the sea front – oh and he has a film crew following him around.
Now every small charity struggling to make ends meet dreams of a fairy god mother to turn up on their doorstep and offer them cash. So having watched previous series we immediately became suspicious. Could a secret millionaire really be coming to our rescue?
Over a hectic week, fifty hours of filming became fifty minutes. That long speech you had been rehearsing became one line. Don’t forget to look natural while they stick a camera in your face, and ask you to do something again and again. Oh, and act all surprised when all is revealed! As it turns out the mystery millionaire, Bradley Reback is a good bloke who is continuing to support us. He found that despite what the media would have us believe, that people down on their luck aren’t all scroungers and scum-bags but are human beings who can be warm and generous with the little they have. He told the cameras the next time someone asks him for 50p for a cup of tea he will stick his hand in his pocket.
This series has been a bit too much poor millionaire with all their problems, but the researchers do a great job uncovering people and small organisations that work hard in their communities on a shoestring. It is a snapshot into another Britain that goes under the radar for the majority of our media obsessed with those idiots in the jungle, premiership footballers and some toffs having a Royal wedding.
As for our little charity working with pupils who are failing at school offering them different skills and opportunities, getting a wide range of people; from school kids to refugees, older residents to people with learning difficulties, working together; well we are really proud of what we do, and primetime TV exposure has really helped raise our profile.
So will my five minutes of fame go to my head? Of course. Infact I’ve decided that Slough Town just aren’t classy enough for me now, and as our Chairman has declined my request for a corporate box (thanks, but that offer of a treehouse in the big beech tree by the M40 just wasn’t what I was after) I’m off to the Arsenal where my new found bling and prawn sandwich swallowing will really be appreciated.
* If you want to know more about where I work and a link to watch the programme go to www.seedybusiness.org (but please don’t ask me any gardening questions while I’m watching the football).

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