Hat’s off to Hayley, a local girl who does us all proud

Hayley Kay at the photocall for the Grand theatre pantomime Peter Pan.
Hayley Kay at the photocall for the Grand theatre pantomime Peter Pan.
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There’s probably not a single person who could resent the success Hayley Kay has had.

The very definition of local girl made good, Kay is rapidly becoming as much a part of the Blackpool fabric as the Tower and the Pleasure Beach.

In fact one of her ambitions is to be Mayor. “People will think that’s hilarious but it’s true,” she says with a trademark grin.

Breakfast radio show presenter, host of this year’s Illuminations Switch-On, star of Christmas pantomimes at the Grand Theatre, the face of Schools Alive (a week-long initiative to get youngsters into theatre), The Illumathon (a midnight walk to raise money for Trinity Hospice), Miss Blackpool (no explanation required) ... the list is pretty endless. She seems to work non-stop.

All of which begs the question, does she ever have any time off?

“Sundays. I have strict rules about Sundays,” she said. “Breakfast and then no cooking at all. The kitchen is shut and I just eat out or go to the pub, watch football and generally sit about and be lazy. That’s my once-a-week treat – a proper day off.

“It does sometimes feel a bit of a whirlwind because I do seem to do a lot. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I like being busy and I love hosting these different events.

“I found myself sat at a dinner once between Karl Oyston (Blackpool FC chairman) and Simon Blackburn (leader of Blackpool Council) and I thought ‘How? How does this happen to me?’ It is weird.

“But I really like it and I think the reason people get me and maybe like what I do on the radio and elsewhere is because they know I love it here and that I’ve always got the area’s best intentions at heart.”

That much is certainly true. The girl who has always lived in the town (her house is near Stanley Park) and who went to Waterloo Primary and Queen Mary schools is Blackpool through and through.

“I will never leave the town,” she said. “That might make me sound a little narrow-minded but I love it here. All my friends and family live here, all the people I care about most, and being happy is what is most important to me these days.”

Kay hasn’t always been in the limelight. She briefly left broadcasting to get a job at Bispham High and then Palatine School, working as a behaviour manager for high school kids.

“I saw a very different Blackpool, one I hadn’t seen before, one that I perhaps didn’t really know existed and I had the best time,” she said.

“But things happen and I just decided that maybe I should do what I think I’m best at doing. Radio Wave asked me to go back and I jumped at it.

“I think I went to work in education because prior to that I had always been a DJ, always self-employed, and I think I got a little spooked.

“I guess once I knew I could do a proper job, then I was happy to go back into radio.

“I’ve approached it differently second time around and I absolutely love every second.

“When I came out of it the first time I thought ‘I don’t really remember much about it’. I just seemed to work really hard and it passed me by in a blur, whereas now I absolutely relish everything I do and I enjoy every opportunity I am given. I have grown up a lot I guess.”

As well as appearing on Radio Wave, helping Jonathan Ross and Gary Barlow turn on the Illuminations at the weekend, and appearing at other events all over Blackpool, Hayley will be found this Christmas at the Grand Theatre, part of the cast of Peter Pan alongside Steve Royle and former Emmerdale actor Tom Lister.

It is her second successive panto after her appearance in Cinderella last year.

“It was brilliant being asked to do it because it had always been an ambition of mine, and I must have done all right because they’ve invited me back,” she said.

“It was a crazy way to spend Christmas last year because I was doing five radio shows and 12 pantomimes a week, a heck of a schedule. It was madness but brilliant madness.

“I had a flu jab before it started, lots of vitamins and early nights, and a holiday straight after and that was what got me through I think.

“But it was the most fun. There are times when you are on stage, singing and laughing and dressed in a weird costume, and you think, ‘Wow, I get paid for this, this is my job’. You get the odd pinch-yourself moment when you think, ‘I can’t believe this is my life’.

“But I love it, bring it on!”

And with that, she’s off – no doubt to work somewhere else. A lady on a mission and someone representing all that’s good about the resort.