Musical staff

‘We are incredibly proud,’ staff say as BBC Radio Northampton celebrates 40 years of broadcasting in the city

BBC Radio Northampton began broadcasting at 6.45am on June 16, 1982, and now breakfast presenter Annabel Amos will kick off the 40th birthday celebrations by rappelling down the lift tower.

Annabel, sportswriter Graham McKechnie and 40 others will descend the 127-meter-tall tower starting at 9 a.m. while remaining on the air.

The station was overwhelmed with nominations for abseilers and struggled to choose just 40. There are a multitude of reasons volunteers want to do this and are all equally inspiring. Some of these reasons conquer a fear of heights like Graham McKechnie and prove to their grandkids that they can do anything.

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BBC Radio Northampton turns 40.

Annabel doesn’t share the same fear of heights as others, but said she was “a little petrified but also extremely excited” about the celebrations.

Michelle Usher is among those who rappel for an inspiring reason, despite having fibromyalgia syndrome, among other conditions, and being a survivor of domestic violence, Michelle uses these things to allow her to complete the rappel.

The pandemic has 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 that choice on her own is something that also drives her to take up the challenge and raise money for the Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Charity, which has helped her over the years.

Michelle heard about this opportunity through the newscasts she listens to every 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 Amos

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

In addition to encores, the Northampton Male Voice Choir will provide music throughout breakfast alongside journalist Tom Percival, but his feet will remain firmly planted on the floor.

This daring adventure isn’t the only thing that stands out from Annabel’s days as a resort, but it’s sure to be the biggest.

She said: “On my very first breakfast show, I did an article about water vole poo, so things definitely got better.”

Anna Bartlett, content editor at BBC Radio Northampton, said the local station is “incredibly important” and telling people’s stories is what gives them unique insight. One of its standout moments is the musical performed by the station to mark the 50th 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.

Ahead of the big day, former presenters were interviewed on the radio with former famous station voices including Richard Hammond, Matt Allwright, Liz Kershaw and Aled Jones.

The radio station’s anniversary also coincides with the 40th anniversary of the elevator tower itself.