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Rachel Dean's Big Ask: Choreographer Fleur Mellor on why we need a happy news channel


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Choreographing life: Fleur Mellor works for her husband’s company and as a humanist wedding celebrant

Choreographing life: Fleur Mellor works for her husband’s company and as a humanist wedding celebrant

Freddie Parkinson

Amazing support: Fleur’s parents Marie-Claire and Martin Mellor

Amazing support: Fleur’s parents Marie-Claire and Martin Mellor

Happiest moment: Fleur with husband Peter Corry

Happiest moment: Fleur with husband Peter Corry

Fleur with husband Peter Corry on their wedding day at which actor Ian McElhinney officiated

Fleur with husband Peter Corry on their wedding day at which actor Ian McElhinney officiated

 Fleur Mellor's rabbit Lapinot, that once belonged to her dad

Fleur Mellor's rabbit Lapinot, that once belonged to her dad

Family ties: Fleur with her dad, mum and brother Jean-Pierre at her wedding

Family ties: Fleur with her dad, mum and brother Jean-Pierre at her wedding

Choreographing life: Fleur Mellor works for her husband’s company and as a humanist wedding celebrant

In this week's interview Rachel Dean talks to Fleur Mellor (40), who is a producer and choreographer for Peter Corry Productions and a humanist wedding celebrant. She lives in Hillsborough with her husband Peter Corry.

Q. Tell us about your childhood

A. I was born in Liverpool and I grew up there until I was about six. We moved from Liverpool to Reading, in southern England, and I was there until I went to secondary school at A-level stage.

I have one younger brother, Jean-Pierre, or JP as we all call him.

My dad, Martin, is from Lytham and my mum, Marie-Claire, is from Mauritius, so I had quite a mixed cultural upbringing - the very English and the very exotic if you like. It was interesting in different ways, from the culture and language to the food. Mum is a brilliant cook. It was normal to me growing up, but looking back on it now I was very lucky because my upbringing was diverse and quite different from a lot of my friends'.

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Amazing support: Fleur’s parents Marie-Claire and Martin Mellor

Amazing support: Fleur’s parents Marie-Claire and Martin Mellor

Amazing support: Fleur’s parents Marie-Claire and Martin Mellor

We went to Mauritius a few times - I haven't been often enough actually. My brother has been there far more times than I have because when I was in secondary school and he was in primary school, half-terms were on different weeks. I haven't been there now in a long time and I'm definitely overdue a visit.

I had a really great time when I was a kid. It was a very easy-going and happy childhood.

I had a different hobby every night of the week. I was going dancing, I was in a choir, I played the clarinet, I was at Brownies and I went to a swimming club. Anything that had me out of the house, I was doing it. I was really lucky.

Q. What are you most proud of?

A. Over the years, things come and go, but I'm really proud that I've got an incredible group of friends.

Some are from primary school, secondary school or from working. They're a real mixed group of friends - they're not all from one place. I'm really proud of keeping that going and having these really brilliant friendships, even though we don't all live near each other or we don't necessarily work together and haven't done in a long time.

My friends are spread all over, so I always have a friend wherever I go. It really is that thing where if you haven't seen somebody in a year and a half, it's like no time has passed when you finally meet up again. To be able to just pick up like that is brilliant.

Q. The one regret you wish you could amend?

A. I don't have regrets because I don't really see the point. I think that if something has passed, it has passed.

You can't change it, you can only change your behaviour going forward - so if something happened in the past that wasn't brilliant, what can you do moving forward that would make a difference?

I really do try to look forward rather than back.

Q. What about phobias? Do you have any?

A. It's totally irrational, but I'm afraid of spiders. I hate them even when you're scrolling through social media and somebody has put up a picture or a video of a spider, something like that.

I can't look at anything to do with spiders. They just give me nightmares.

Q. The temptation you cannot resist?

A. If someone offers me a cup of tea. Maybe it's the northerner in me, but there's never a point when it's not a good time to say yes.

You know when some people say, "I'm only drinking two cups a day," I'm always the one to say, "Yeah, bring it on."

Q. Your number one prized possession?

A. I've got this really old toy rabbit that used to belong to my dad when he was younger. He got given to me -­ I don't hang out with him on a regular basis or anything, but I've had him ever since I was very young. And I've still got him, he's still on the go. His name is Lapinot, which is a French term that basically means baby rabbit.

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 Fleur Mellor's rabbit Lapinot, that once belonged to her dad

Fleur Mellor's rabbit Lapinot, that once belonged to her dad

Fleur Mellor's rabbit Lapinot, that once belonged to her dad

Q. The book that's most impacted your life?

A. This is really hard because I'm a massive bookworm and I absolutely love reading - it feels a little bit like trying to choose your favourite child. I'm going to cheat and pick a couple of authors. I read such a lot when I was younger which has been a huge influence on me, so going back then, I would say the Dr Seuss books or anything by Roald Dahl.

Anything that really fired my imagination, that were a bit fantastical and made me think of things in a different way. Anything that was really vivid I absolutely loved, and I still like them now.

Q. If you had the power or authority, what would you do?

A. This is something I've been saying for years and years, but I think we need a happy news channel because the history of reporting on the news is generally geared towards the heavy which is usually quite negative.

A lot of people start their day watching the news and I think, particularly now during the coronavirus crisis, it's very prevalent and it's important that things are reported to keep people informed, but there's no alternative.

For all the bad things that are happening, there's always good stuff going on as well and I feel like that's heavily underreported.

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Family ties: Fleur with her dad, mum and brother Jean-Pierre at her wedding

Family ties: Fleur with her dad, mum and brother Jean-Pierre at her wedding

Family ties: Fleur with her dad, mum and brother Jean-Pierre at her wedding

I know some things are seen as 'fluffy pieces' that don't really matter, but I think if there was a 20-minute segment on in the morning that was really brilliant and positive, people would go out of the house with a different head on their shoulders.

There is a bit of good in the news, but I would love to see something that was solely dedicated to positive information. You found a fiver? Great - we can all relate to that feeling of finding a fiver in an old purse. So, if I had the power or the authority, I would make that happen.

Q. What makes your blood boil every time without fail?

A. Anything that is unfair or unjust. I just find that really difficult and frustrating, and it doesn't have to be on a big scale or have happened to me.

Q. Who has most influenced you in life?

A. I think there's lots of people who influence you in different ways. But I suppose, in the biggest part of my life, certainly since we met and got married, I would have to say Peter.

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Happiest moment: Fleur with husband Peter Corry

Happiest moment: Fleur with husband Peter Corry

Happiest moment: Fleur with husband Peter Corry

I think my life would have travelled on a very different track if I hadn't met him and I love where it's gone. I'm very lucky that we work together, we love what we do and that we get to work on creative projects with a lot of variety.

I always knew that I liked organising things and choreographing dances, but I didn't really realise what those skills would allow me to do with all the production side of things, and Peter played a huge part in helping me realise I was good at that.

Q. Your top three dinner party guests, dead or alive, and why?

A. One of them is Charlie Brooker, the guy who wrote all the Black Mirror series which is about the near future.

It seems to have weirdly mirrored lots of things that have happened in our own culture in the last 10 years, but he seems to have been ahead of the curve every single time. I would love to get an insight into his brain and how he thinks of these storylines, because they all seem so possible. I just think it's genius, it's so smart.

Next would be Gene Kelly because he's one of the most fabulous performers ever. He was an incredible dancer too.

I just think you can't watch anything that he did and not smile, be entertained and feel good about yourself. I think he did what he did brilliantly, and with charm and class. He was a great example and just very inspiring.

And Robin Williams because he would have everyone cracking up, laughing and having a brilliant time. I think he was such a genius. You nearly wouldn't need to speak with those three, you could sit back and watch the evening unfold.

Q. The best piece of advice you ever received?

A. Years ago, I was on one of my first contracts, I was actually away in Israel doing a dance show.

One of my friends there gave me this piece of advice and I thought it really made sense and it's stuck ever since - it was, "to take your first impression of somebody and throw it out the window" because you're quite often wrong.

People project an idea of what they want you to see, and it's not that your first impression is completely wrong, but there's more to a person. You don't necessarily meet everyone on their best day, so, just give them a chance.

Q. The unlikely interest or hobby that you love?

A. I'm quite lucky that a lot of my hobbies have turned into work that I just love to do.

I actually marry people - I'm a humanist wedding celebrant.

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 Fleur Mellor is also a humanist wedding celebrant

Fleur Mellor is also a humanist wedding celebrant

Fleur Mellor is also a humanist wedding celebrant

Our own wedding got me into it actually. I'm not religious and couldn't find what I felt was the right compromise between a registry wedding and a church wedding, because I wanted something that had a bit of spectacle and theatre about it of course.

Then, I heard about humanist weddings and thought it sounded amazing and went to do my training. It's an interest more than a hobby - I don't want to trivialise it - because it's not the thing I do the majority of the time. I do it when I can and I only do a number of weddings a year because I want to give my time and attention to my full-time career, but it is really enjoyable to do.

Q. The poem that touches your heart?

A. People are sharing a lot of things on social media at the moment and there's a brilliant poem by Spike Milligan called Smile which I had sort of forgotten about until someone posted it recently.

It goes "Smiling is infectious, You can catch it like the flu, When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too", which is obviously why somebody has posted about it because it's very relevant at the moment amongst all the coronavirus chat.

Q. The happiest moment of your life?

A. Definitely our wedding day - in June of 2018. We got married outside a cave in Italy with a very small group of friends and family - and it was just amazing.

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Fleur with husband Peter Corry on their wedding day at which actor Ian McElhinney officiated

Fleur with husband Peter Corry on their wedding day at which actor Ian McElhinney officiated

Fleur with husband Peter Corry on their wedding day at which actor Ian McElhinney officiated

Q. And the saddest?

A. I feel like I've been very lucky in my life, not to say sad things haven't happened, but I think my saddest moment is probably ahead of me.

Q. The one event that made a difference in your life?

A. Realising dance could be a job. When I was doing my A-levels, it was always just a hobby and something that was really fun to do.

Then the penny suddenly dropped, and it was like, "What you can do is surreal. You can actually go and study this". I thought it was like a joke or something, that dance could be a career.

When I finally realised I could do it, I just thought, "This is brilliant!" My parents were, and still are, 100% supportive. I'm very lucky to have parents like them. Whatever I would have wanted to do in my life, they would have said "That's great. Good luck".

Q. What's the ambition that keeps driving you onward?

A. For people to keep enjoying what I'm doing is a huge motivator. And knowing I'm good at what I do. If you put on a show or performance and you can see people having a brilliant time and really enjoying themselves, there's really not a substitute for that feeling.

Q. What's the philosophy you live by?

A. Do it until you get told off.

Q. How do you want to be remembered?

A. Nothing grand, just as a decent person who was kind. I would be more than happy with that.

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