When I was dubbed Suffolk's version of John Sargeant

Children in Need 1996

A Children in Need night in 1996 - Credit: BBC Suffolk

I haven’t got that much in common with the comedy characters Smashy and Nicey apart from the fact that we do a lot of work for charity but don’t like to talk about it.

That said, as a one-off I am going to take a look back at some of the many fundraising projects I got involved in during my years at BBC Radio Suffolk.

Pudsey and I go back to the mid-1990s when I hosted a live music event at what was then the Milestone Beerhouse in Ipswich town centre.

I remember with great fondness an evening of jazz, folk and blues which was recorded for broadcast. Engineer David Butcher was in the outside broadcast van outside while inside the pub myself, Mike Hamilton and Pete Jennings introduced the acts from our particular genres of music - blues, jazz and folk respectively.

I recall Ipswich jazz legend Mick Hanson guesting with Hammond B3 player Gary Baldwin. Roots group Bopp! may well have been on the bill and so too the funky blues band Groove Doctors.


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Forgive me if I’ve got any of that wrong. You see Pudsey did tend to lead me astray and by the end of the night I would have been extremely tired and very emotional.

Stephen Foster Children in Need

Foz with Pudsey for Children in Need - Credit: BBC Suffolk

Another Children In Need highlight came in 1996 when I hosted a celebrity sports quiz. It took place at what was then the AXA Sports and Social Club (now Venue 16) on the edge of Ipswich.

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I was in my element as this local version of A Question Of Sport featured some of Suffolk’s biggest personalities.

Golf star Joanne Hockley was very much the rose between several thorns in the guises of Alan Brazil, Bob Shelley, Terry Baxter, James Easter, John Wark and Ray East.

The photograph of that night must have been taken before the start of the quiz. Tearing some of them away from the bar at the end would have been nigh on impossible.

In the Spring of 2005 BBC Radio Suffolk celebrated its 15th birthday with a big bash at the Ipswich Regent. Editor at the time, Gerald Main, asked me to compere the show which starred the Elvis tribute band A Little Less Conversation, vocal group The Magnets and Ipswich Music Day favourites Soul Kitchen.

Thanks to the generosity of the listeners and every act involved we raised tidy sums for the St Nicholas and St Elizabeth hospices in Suffolk. It was at around this time that Gerald suggested I should make more on air of my nickname Foz.  He wasn’t wrong. It certainly worked and for a very long time I had the shortest presenter email address in the corporation - foz@bbc.co.uk. Please don’t try to email me using that now. It left the building along with me at the beginning of this year.

There were of course many more charity events and projects that I was proud to be part of, not least the making of the ITFC anthem Singing The Blues, the Foz and Bob Happy Hour CD and a local version of Strictly Come Dancing at the Spa in Felixstowe where I was soon dubbed Suffolk’s version of John Sergeant. I know I was bad but that bad? Don’t feel you have to answer that.

One of the things I’ve always tried to do is put the fun in fundraising. It was a piece of advice I picked up from my very good friend Gina Long who runs the hugely successful GeeWizz Charitable Foundation. What Gee doesn’t know about raising funds for great causes isn’t worth bothering about.

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