The word idol is overused in today’s society: Pop Idol, fashion idol, Instagram idol – all linked with pop culture. It used to be that an idol was defined as someone you look up to and admire.
Some religions ban worshiping idols because they believe that it distracts from God – you are worshipping the idea of God, not God himself. It’s much the same in today’s culture; people confuse fame for idols, often thanks to shows like American Idol or The X Factor.
So I got thinking about who my idols are and why. The three people I have chosen all possess qualities I admire; strong work ethics, with careers and success I would like to emulate. They are also caring people with families who have given back to charity after their success.
1. Fearne Cotton
I have always looked up to Fearne Cotton, ever since I watched her on Saturday morning television from a young age. Back then I just thought she was cool, and as I grew older, I began to wish I had her job, then I admired her for it. I have since followed her career up to being the leading female presenter on BBC Radio One and one of the go-to presenters for BBC television.
She is my idol because she has worked hard from an early age to get where she is. She could easily have been a flash in the pan, a child star of days gone by, but she has staying power because she has a good work ethic and has gained respect from the industry. And that in itself is a hard thing to do. I have so much admiration for anyone at any level in the media industry; people think it’s easy and glamorous, but speaking from experience, I can tell you it is not: it is ruthless and hard.
Not content with just being a leading presenter, she has also launched her own fashion, makeup and interior lines. She has become Terry Wogan’s right hand woman on Children In Need, as well as the face of CoppaFeel – a breast cancer charity which encourages women to check their breasts for lumps. And she has a beautiful family since marrying Jesse Wood, practically rock ‘n’ roll royalty as he is Ronnie Wood’s son, which is so apt for Fearne. She also has her gorgeous son Rex, as well as being a great stepmother to Jesse’s children from his first marriage. Most importantly, she doesn’t take herself too seriously; and I love her for it.
2. Caitlin Moran
Caitlin Moran is the journalist I want to be – she speaks her mind and doesn’t give a damn about what other people think. She sticks up for what she believes in and writes honestly about her own experiences while being relatable, funny and insightful about the world around her.
I dipped in and out of her columns and loved her style, it was something I longed to emulate, along with her success – she has been named Columnist and Journalist of the Year by several institutions. Her Twitter is always so on point as well. Her reaction to the video for Lily Allen’s feminist anthem Hard Out Here was perfect and she tackled the trolls with gusto.
But I really put her up on a pedestal after reading her book How to be a Woman, an insightful look at how the media portrays women and what it means to be a feminist today, interspersed with her own stories of growing up and coming to terms with her own womanhood. Not only did the book make me laugh, it taught me a lot, developing my own feminist views, and it inspired me to continue writing myself.
If I could write half as candidly, comically and successfully as Caitlin, I would be a very happy woman.
3. David McMullan
You may not be so familiar with this name, unless you live in Gerrards Cross, where he is a pillar of the community. David is a successful businessman, does great work for charity and is a wonderful family man. He is also my Grandad.
He regales me with stories of his life, which has varied from growing up in troubled Belfast, to moving to Australia to work for Beechams and then travelling the world as head of international sales for the pharmaceutical giant before settling in England. In his entrepreneurial wisdom, he helped sports pundit David Coleman develop a company to provide filming of football matches and chaired start-up companies, including the Queen’s Award for Enterprise-winning hospital services company, Cableflow.
He is now in his 80s and despite retiring several years ago, he keeps active by being the chairman of an employment charity, he has volunteered there for 20 years, helping people with their job hunt. He has also been involved with St Tiggywinkles animal charity, is secretary of our church, has been captain of his local golf club and generally helps out where he can.
I look up to my Grandad because he has always been a hard worker, showing me that if you put time and effort into what you do, you will reap the benefits. His charity work is also admirable, teaching me the importance of giving back. I want to emulate his success so I can make him proud and hopefully one day my grandchildren will look up to me, too.