‘We’re incredibly proud’ say staff as BBC Radio Northampton celebrates 40 years of broadcasting to the town

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To mark 40 years, 40 people, including presenters, will abseil down the Lift Tower

BBC Radio Northampton first started broadcasting at 6.45 am June 16, 1982, and now breakfast presenter Annabel Amos will be launching the 40th birthday celebrations by abseiling down the Lift Tower.

Annabel, sports editor Graham McKechnie, and 40 others will be descending down the 127metre tall tower starting at 9am all whilst staying on the air.

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The station has been overwhelmed with nominations for the abseilers and has had a hard time choosing just 40. There is a massive range of reasons why the volunteers want to do it and are all equally inspirational. Some of these reasons are conquering a fear of heights, like Graham McKechnie and proving to their grandchildren they can do anything.

BBC Radio Northampton is celebrating 40 years.BBC Radio Northampton is celebrating 40 years.
BBC Radio Northampton is celebrating 40 years.

Annabel does not share the same fear of heights as others but said she is “a little bit petrified but also extremely excited” about the celebrations.

Michelle Usher is one of those abseiling for an inspiring reason, despite having fibromyalgia syndrome, among other conditions, and being a survivor of domestic abuse, Michelle is using these things to empower her to complete the abseil.

The pandemic helped her become less dependent on her wheelchair and improve her mobility so she “thought why not just do it”. The ability to be able to make this choice for herself is something that is also pushing her to complete the challenge and raise money for the Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Charity, which has helped her over the years.

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Michelle heard about the opportunity from the news bulletins, which she listens to each day and said “the unknown can be really scary but local radio helps me feel less isolated and connects me to what’s happening around me”.

Annabel AmosAnnabel Amos
Annabel Amos

One of the things that is at the heart of BBC Radio Northampton is the people of the community and this is why staff knew they wanted members of the community to get involved. Supporters are being encouraged to come along and watch the events taking place throughout the day.

As well as the abseilers, the Northampton Male Voice Choir will be providing music throughout the breakfast show next to reporter Tom Percival, however his feet are going to remain firmly on the ground.

This daring adventure is not the only thing that stands out from Annabel’s time as the station but will certainly be the biggest.

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She said: “On my first ever breakfast show I did a piece about water vole poo, so things have definitely improved.”

Anna Bartlett, content editor at BBC Radio Northampton, said that the local station is “incredibly important” and that telling people’s story is what gives them a unique insight. One of her standout moments is the musical put on by the station to mark the 50-year anniversary of the opening of Watford Gap Services. The musical included a choir of people associated with the services and different stories told as part of it.

Leading up to the big day, former presenters have been interviewed on the radio with previous famous voices of the station including Richard Hammond, Matt Allwright, Liz Kershaw and Aled Jones.

The birthday of the radio station also coincides with the 40th birthday of the lift tower itself.