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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Emeli Sande's Cumbrian mum on bringing up a superstar

The mum of one of Britain’s most talented singers says her daughter almost made a choice to pick nursing over music – as a toddler.

Emeli Sande photo
Emeli Sande

Thankfully for her millions of fans worldwide, pop sensation Emeli Sandé chose the latter – although probably much to the disappointment of hospital wards everywhere.

Emeli’s mum Diane, who was born and grew up on Copeland Avenue in Egremont, told the News & Star: “When she was about three, for her birthday she had a nurse’s outfit and a guitar; those were the things that she became interested in. She was very musical, and when I think back she was always singing and writing little songs.

“At school she really loved music: she was always part of the school choir and concerts and always had a passion for music.

“Parents are a little bit biased, but we always knew she was talented. It was during those school concerts when we realised that she didn’t have any nerves, she had that confidence to get up and perform where others wouldn’t.”

Diane left the Smithfield area of Egremont when she was about 23 to study education at Sunderland Polytechnic, and later went on to complete a combined arts degree.

The former Whitehaven Grammar School pupil and her famous daughter still have close connections to the county, with Diane’s brother Chris Wood living at Beckermet, near Egremont, and sister Jo, who lives in Carlisle.

From a humble family background, award-winning Emeli has gone on to achieve pop stardom. With chart-topping hits, Brit Awards and a critically acclaimed album, the singer-songwriter was asked to perform during the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies.

It was a moment Diane says her family will never forget.

“There have been lots of performances,” she explained, “but for me the big thing and the times that stick in my head are the album and the Olympics. The Olympics is the big thing that will be remembered for the rest of our lives. It was quite emotional and we couldn’t breathe for about three minutes.

“It was a brilliant moment.”

Her parents Bob and Betty Wood died in 2004 and 2006 and so never had the chance to see Emeli perform on such a big stage, but Diane knows they would be proud of all that their granddaughter has achieved.

“My mum passed away before the Olympics and never had the chance to see her perform, but she was very interested in it all.

“She used to say that Emeli had stars in her eyes and I’m sure they will be watching down from somewhere,” added Diane, who now works in environmental health for Aberdeen City Council.

She fondly recalls trips with Emeli and the rest of her family to Cumbria, and hasn’t ruled out the songstress using the county’s incredible scenery for inspiration some day.

“We used to come back to Howbank Road in Egremont where my parents used to live quite a lot,” Diane said. “We also liked their neighbour, Will Ellinson, who was very helpful to my parents, which I am thankful for.

“The family used to go camping in the Lake District with Keswick and Buttermere being their favourite places to go. I’m sure Emeli will come back up at some point, especially now it’s time to write.”

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