Gloria Hunniford has made the Queen’s Birthday Honours List on the third ‘notch’ – at OBE level, by-passing BEM and MBE. And it’s only but right that bubbly Portadown-born Gloria should be moved up the scale to receive her first – and overdue – gong, writes Victor Gordon.
For Gloria has been wooing ’em in the entertainment business for 70 of her 77 years.
She is still enjoying an active life, every bit as much as the precocious song-and-dance child who took to the stages of halls in and around Mid Ulster back in the late 1940s – especially in the current mega-hit BBC series ‘Rip Off Britain’ along with, um, mature colleagues Angela Rippon and Julia Somerville. (combined ages 210).
Little Gloria was the support act for her magician dad Charlie Hunniford, honing her skills four nights a week, and laying the foundations for a career that utilised her considerable talents for radio and TV.
“Of course, there were no openings on TV or radio for families like the Hunnifords in those days,” said Gloria.
“I would never had dreamed of the life that lay ahead, or that I would have been given an honour from the Queen. The entire family is so proud.”
The path to nationwide fame began with highly-acclaimed shows like ‘A Taste of Hunni’ (Radio Ulster) and the ground-breaking, news-entertainment ‘Good Evening Ulster’ (UTV).
It wasn’t the world of entertainment that landed Gloria the fully-warranted honour. It was her charity work, especially for Action Cancer where she fronted the breast screen campaign.
It all came too close to home when her daughter Caron Keating – just as talented as Gloria in the TV world – succumbed to breast cancer in 2004, aged just 41, after a seven-year battle. Gloria set up the charity The Caron Keating Foundation which has since raised a stunning £5 million, contributing to smaller cancer causes.
Gloria has written two books to record the life and times of Caron, something she said “helped us in our bid to come to terms with the tragedy.”
She has dedicated the OBE to the extended family, saying: “It’s such an honour. And I’m especially proud that my work for cancer is the main reason. Caron would have been so proud.”