A fond farewell to our Louise
Friday 22nd June 2018 @ 11:54 by Anna Fletcher
Community Entertainment Features News Tameside

After five years and a wealth of experiences at Tameside Radio, breakfast presenter Louise Croombs, is moving on.

As well as continuing her work in radio, Louise will be taking time to focus on her family and some other upcoming opportunities including podcasting and writing a book.

Louise said: “I have had the greatest time at Tameside Radio and achieved more than I ever dreamed I could. I never imagined I would be the breakfast presenter and though the early mornings can be hard I have loved every minute.

“More than anything, it has been an honour to connect with the people in Tameside, to know Tameside in my soul and be a part of that. Our community is amazing and I have had the chance to interview hundreds of people working hard to achieve wonderful things to help make Tameside better and it is incredibly inspiring.”

Louise was born in Hyde and currently lives in the town now, but she spent many years living in the South working in theatre as a Stage Manager. She got to work with a wide range of people including big names like Maxine Peak, Warren Mitchell, Sharon Osbourne and Johnny Lee Miller.

She won awards for her stint in hospital radio as well as running her own business working with young people as a Dramatherapist which she continues to do now.

Tameside Radio came into the picture after moving back to the borough with her family and over the last five years has been the very proud recipient of two Gold Awards and two Silver from the Community Radio Awards. These included Female Presenter of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Speech and Journalism.

Louise said: “I am so happy and proud to have received those awards, it was a shock to me especially the Journalism category. I had never thought of myself in that way, I just like to listen to people.

“I won that award for my piece on the Rough Sleep I did and that night really sticks in my mind. It felt so important to record what was happening. I listened to people who were formerly homeless talk about what that was like and how their lives had changed since then and I just felt so grateful that they shared and trusted me with their stories. One man said nobody had ever listened to him before and I got to tell him that I listened and that I thought he was important and those are the things that stay with you.”

Other things that have stuck with Louise during her time with Tameside Radio include her Year of Volunteering where she volunteered with fifty organisations over 12 months writing an article every week for the Tameside Reporter, the 10-year-old boy who started a campaign to save Ashton Baths, being the voice for the Tour of Tameside and the woman who sang an amazing song live on the radio for the first time since having a stroke.

Louise said: “I have so many memories, it would be impossible to mention them all. People like Jack from Baggy Trousers UK, Donna Seddon from the Anthony Seddon Fund and Alison Williams from the Believe and Achieve Trust. These charities are doing great work and were started by amazing people who took really difficult experiences and channelled them into helping others. They come on and tell their stories and they fight for their community, it fills me with pride, pride and tears to think of them carrying these messages.”

These are the people who in part inspired Louise in the work she is doing going forward. In her last week with the station, Louise spoke publicly for the first time about her diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) two years ago.

She explains: “The people I have connected with have shown such amazing bravery and in part this empowered me to share my own experience with my listeners.

“It has been two years almost to the day since I was diagnosed. I had always known there was something a little different about me, but I could never put my finger on what. I had worked with people on the autistic spectrum as a therapist and always found them to be such wonderful people, I felt a connection and when my son started going through the process of diagnosis it slowly started to dawn on me that I may be on the spectrum too.”

It took two years for Louise to truly process her diagnosis and what it meant to her, but she is now ready to speak out about her experience and hopes to create safe spaces for others to do so too.

She remembers: “The day I was diagnosed was one of the happiest of my life because everything made so much sense to me, but I wasn’t sure of how to articulate it to other people because there was sadness attached to it too.

“I am scared of judgement. Will people think of me differently, will they think I am less capable despite everything I have accomplished so far, will they put everything I do down to autism? So, I hope my message is that though it can be very hard, anyone with experience of autism will know this, don’t let it diminish you and what you can do because what you can do is amazing.”

Louise also likes to shine a light on some of the positive aspects of ASD.

She explains: “It has given me a way of listening and understanding the world, a way of trying to connect with people and wanting to understand them and a very clear way of communicating because I want to make sure I understand and that people understand me. It has given me great traits and skills that make me good at what I do.

“I am great at facts so good for a quiz, I love to learn, I care deeply for others which is great for my therapy work and I pay great attention to detail. Some people say people with ASD see the needle before the haystack!”

As part of her mission to give people on the spectrum a voice and start a conversation Louise is creating a podcast called Autie Talk as well as continuing her blog and writing a book around her experience.

She said: “I still love being a radio presenter and working in the community and that isn’t going to stop, but I also want to follow this path too. Like my guests have done in the past, I think being vulnerable is a very strong thing to do. We all suffer and the best way to combat that is to allow yourself to be vulnerable so others can understand and support you.

“We need compassion in all ways and I feel like I owe it to myself to be brave and say I am autistic, it isn’t a problem and I don’t need you to change, but I do want you to know and understand.”

Louise has been on a quest to interview as many of her old guests as possible in her last week with around 18 people making their way into the studio. Her last show is this Friday June 22.

Louise said: “I am excited for what is next, but I am so incredibly sad for what I am leaving. I love Tameside Radio and my experience there will stay with me forever. Thank you to everyone for making it so wonderful.”

You can follow Louise on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit www.louisecroombs.com