‘I tossed the rugby ball like a hot potato’

The Great South Run

VERITY LUSH: I’m glad that social media didn’t exist in my youth

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As a child I remember my late mother going to night school. My brother and I would dread Monday night when we’d be alone for what seemed like hours.

We would pass the time by watching Ask The Family, Blake 7 and my favourite, A Question of Sport, hosted at that time by David Coleman with team captains ex-footballer Emlyn Hughes and rugby legend Bill Beaumont.

Years later I would get to meet Bill when I filmed with him and his lovely wife Hillary on Cash In The Celebrity Attic.

I was aware of Bill’s sporting achievements (34 England caps, 21 times captain, including the 1980 Grand Slam, as well as caps with the Barbarians and Lions).

I felt a little nervous knocking on the front door at his house in Lytham St Annes, near Blackpool. I was keen to make a good impression and had brushed up on his career.

But what I didn’t know was that during the 1970s and 1980s, rugby union was an amateur sport and players were expected to also have a job.

On leaving school, Bill joined the family textile business started in Chorley by his great-grandfather in 1888.

Bill eventually bought the family business that he runs with his wife and one of his three sons, Daniel.

Rummaging around Bill’s house was both daunting and fun. There was a wealth of framed rugby shirts and trophies as well as furniture he was willing to sell for the charity, Wooden Spoon, who raise money to help mentally, physically and social disadvantaged children through sport.

Amongst the items he sold was a match-worn England rugby shirt.

We had a mock game of rugby in his back garden and every time I had the ball and saw Bill coming towards me, I tossed it like a hot potato to Jules Hudson, my co-presenter on the show!

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