If you happened to be first-footing Amy Irons’ granny and grandpa’s ex-council house in Stirling around 20 years ago, you’d likely have found her doing one of two things.
The first would be hogging the microphone attached to a karaoke machine, belting out a Spice Girls number.
Otherwise she’d have been glued to the telly, diligently watching the BBC’s Hogmanay shindig.
For Amy, BBC Scotland’s annual bash WAS Hogmanay – now she’s going to be a part of it.
This Tuesday will see the 28-year-old co-host the New Year’s Eve show for the first time, alongside comedians Susan Calman and Des Clarke.
“To be asked to be on the Hogmanay show is such an incredible honour. When I got that email asking if I was interested in being involved it just seemed completely surreal,” she said.
“All I could think about was being a wee girl in my gran and grandpa’s front room in Stirling, with all the men gathered around the telly with their drams, and me with my wee Capri Sun to toast the bells.
“It was an essential part of Hogmanay – it looked like it was such a fun party that I wanted to be a part of.
“Even a few years ago my friends and I went to a cabin up north and we didn’t have a television, so we all huddled round a phone so we could watch The Bells.
“It didn’t dawn on me that I’d be doing it until one of my friends got in touch and said, ‘do you remember we were watching the Hogmanay show a few years ago? Now you’re going to be on it.’”
If there’s one regret for Amy then it’s not sharing a stage with her idol, Jackie Bird, who stepped down after 20 years presenting Hogmanay coverage.
“Jackie’s been this idol for me,” she added. “I used to pretend to be Jackie Bird when was a wee girl. We had a family video camera and I would pretend to be Jackie doing the news.
“Meeting her in person was a dream – she was still here at the BBC when I first started.
“I got to sit next to her in the make-up chairs and it was surreal but lovely at the same time.
“So with me singing and the telly on behind me I sort of did share a stage with Jackie Bird.
“She’s a real icon but this year’s line-up is something to get excited about – Susan Calman and Des Clarke are two of the funniest people on the planet. Those are two people you really want at your party.
“It’s difficult working alongside Des. I worked with him on the radio and I had this fear when I went on air that I would struggle to contain my laughter because he is so funny.
“The pressure is on me. I hope no one’s expecting me to be that funny.”
Amy joined the BBC last year, realising a lifelong ambition. And if Hogmanay and New Year is about reflecting on the past as much as looking forward to the future, Amy is grateful for the support she has received over the past year.
In 2018, her boyfriend Wayne died by suicide, an event she said “ripped the heart from her chest”.
Since then Amy has opened up about her grief for 34-year-old South African Wayne.
As well as her dream role at the BBC, Amy also believes she has a second job.
“I feel this real moral responsibility of trying to help people who find themselves in the same position that Wayne sadly was,” she said.
“No one is putting that responsibility on me, but if I can do anything to help somebody else who is going through this then absolutely, I will help.
“I’ve been quite shocked at how many people have reached out to me, whether on Twitter, Facebook, or on the street.
“People are very kind, they say thank you for sharing the story and that it’s given them the strength to carry on for another day. Sometimes it’s just very bare, raw and open.
“I just try to offer some advice. Speaking about it helps me because there are times where it’s like I’m the only person who feels like this, like I’m the only person who has gone through something like this.”
Although things have improved, Amy believes processing her feelings will take time and admitted there are days when things are still too painful.
“You have your good days and bad days,” she added. “I’ve tried to be quite open about this.
“Grief isn’t a straight line, and then when you add in complicated grief through something like suicide, it’s even more up and down.
“There are days when I can have conversations with people – I can sit for TV interviews – about what happened and be absolutely fine, and then there are other days when I see something small on the telly or Twitter and then that’s me, crying in the car.
“But I don’t shy away from these feelings, I think it’s so normal. It’s important to remind myself and other people that you don’t have to be OK, even after a certain amount of time. You’re allowed to cut yourself some slack.
“I’ve learned not to feel bad for having a good day, I don’t beat myself up now. And I know I can have a bad day after seemingly being fine for months.
“I just try to remind myself that I’ve been through the worst now.”
Amy travelled to visit Wayne’s family, following his funeral, to take his ashes home.
Meeting them for the first time brought her some closure – although he was on her mind the day she began her job at BBC Pacific Quay in Glasgow.
“It’s funny, I’ve taken a lot of peace from being able to do that for his family,” she said.
“Wayne was my biggest supporter so even something like starting at the BBC, and to have a fresh start, it helps me to keep going.
“I know it’s what he would have wanted.
“You can get to a point where you think, ‘Gosh, I don’t think I’m ever going to get through this’.
“But then you just think, ‘no, I need to. I can’t be another life that’s destroyed.’”
As for the New Year, she is looking forward to working with Susan Calman and Des Clarke on Tuesday night.
While they will be in the studio, Amy will be in Stonehaven for the world-famous Fireballs Ceremony.
“I’m looking forward to it, seeing these men and women flinging flaming fireballs around their heads.”
After that, she can concentrate on 2020.
“I just want to spend more time with the people that matter, and not put too much pressure on myself,” she added.
“One resolution I’m thinking about bringing back is one I had a few years ago, which was writing down any nice things that happened each day on a piece of paper, and putting it in a jar.
“Then at the end of the year you take the notes out and look at all the nice things you’ve done.
“But it’s not really about the end of the year, it’s about making yourself think of a nice thing that you did each day – even if it’s just a nice bath with some candles.
“It’s good to remind yourself that, even on your bad days, there’s still something nice you can take with you.”
Hogmanay 2019, Tuesday, BBC1 Scotland, 11.30pm
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