In this week's interview Rachel Dean talks to UTV political editor Ken Reid (64) who has recently taken on the role of patron for blood cancer charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI. He lives in Ballymena with his wife Liz and they have three grown-up children, Gareth (37), Sarah (36) and Sophie (32) and one granddaughter, Summer, who is five months old.
Q. Tell us about your childhood.
A. When I was 19 months old, my father died in a plane crash in Manchester. His name was Cecil; he was the chief engineer in the Blue Funnel Line, which was a Liverpool-based company.
My mother, Myrtle, then brought me up with the help of my grandparents. She had worked in a shop, but I think after what happened she basically just looked after me. She remarried over a decade later and had my sister, Lynn, who's now a school principal.
I grew up first of all in Rosebank Street just off the Crumlin Road, then we moved just before the Troubles to Ballysillan, to a street called Faburn Park.
I went to Forth River Primary School in Belfast, then Methody, then the University of Hull.
Sport has always been an important part of my life. I'm a huge football fan. I supported Cliftonville and Everton growing up. I just had a big interest in sport; writing match reports, believe it or not. When I went to Methody I became interested in rugby as well. I didn't really play, but when I did, it was very badly! At one period I was the rugby correspondent for The News Letter.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. My family. We're a very close family. My children are all grown up now and get on with their lives. They're good kids.
Then when my granddaughter Summer came along it was fantastic and very emotional. My first grandchild.
It's very frustrating at the moment - she lives in Beverley in East Yorkshire and I'm shielding during the pandemic.
Although we saw her in March, it's frustrating that we can't see her now.
Q. If you had the power or the authority, what would you do?
A. I would sort out the health service. I think the health service should not be political; I think it should be run by experts. Obviously, our own health service is in a terrible state at the moment, even though some of the most brilliant people you can imagine are in it. I would like to see that sorted out.
In terms of the current pandemic, I think the Executive has done really well. Personally, it's been very difficult for me, suffering from leukaemia and being a diabetic. I've been shielding from the start and I'm a bit frustrated about not knowing when the relaxations and new regulations will come in.
But I think if you look at Northern Ireland's figures compared to anywhere else, people here have done really well. I just hope that their bubble doesn't burst and people don't start taking risks, because there is a real danger of a second spike.
Q. What makes your blood boil every time without fail?
A. When people are rude, to nurses or shop assistants in particular, and don't give them any respect. Everyone deserves respect no matter what they do and who they are.
Q. Who has most influenced you in life?
A. There have been quite a few actually. My wife, Liz, certainly has been an influence on me. She's just sensible and uses common sense well; she keeps me on the right path.
Professionally, John True, my first editor in The News Letter. Jim McDowell, a very close friend and confidante. And Rob Morrison, the former head of news at UTV.
There are many other people. When I was very ill and going through chemotherapy, there were a number of very close friends - I don't want to pick anyone out - who stayed in touch and gave me encouragement and got me through it actually. Some of them had gone through similar experiences.
My friends and colleagues at UTV were great, and I have to say those at the BBC were also supportive and sent lots of messages.
Q. Your top three dinner party guests, dead or alive, and why?
A. Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin. There mightn't be much craic in the chat, but the music would be good.
Q. The best piece of advice you've ever received?
A. "Keep going. If you get setbacks, keep going." That's something that has served me well in life because we all get setbacks in life, but you have to keep going - and I've learned that from going through very serious illness.
Q. The unlikely interest or hobby that you love?
A. I'm very predictable. I suppose one thing is the fact I support the Hull rugby league team.
There wouldn't be much interest in rugby league here. I would watch their matches on TV and I've been there a few times when I've been over visiting my daughter.
Q. The poem that touches your heart?
A. The Mower by Philip Larkin. When I was at university in Hull, Larkin was there. I'm fascinated by him and his work. It's a pretty sad poem, but there's a message in it that we should all look after each other and everything.
Q. The happiest moment of your life?
A. Well, there's three of them - the births of my children.
And then, I was as emotional when my granddaughter was born as I was with my own children.
She was born just before Christmas and we spent that Christmas with her.
A. The death of my cousin, Graham, who I treated like a brother. He died of cancer when he was quite young, at just 52. We were very close.
Q. What event changed your life?
A. I suppose going to university because it opened a whole new world for me and the contacts I made there have stood by me all my life.
I would also say my cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed with Leukaemia about two and a half years ago and it was an awful shock.
Actually, when I was looking up my options, I opted to go on a clinical trial, which has proved quite successful. I had six months of chemotherapy and I still take tablets every day.
I feel that the advances in cancer research treatment have been fantastic - maybe some years ago I'd be dead by now. But because of these advancements in research, people's lives are being prolonged. I mean, my cancer isn't curable, but it can be controlled.
You can have near enough a normal life - and that's due to science.
The work that Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI is doing, continuing this research, is absolutely going to prolong and save people's lives.
So, I feel very strongly that when they asked me to lend a hand, I was absolutely delighted to do that.
One of the problems now is with the pandemic, charities are going to suffer, particularly cancer charities. A lot of people who probably have cancer, don't know it and they haven't been going to get checked up. I am quite fearful about the time ahead. I would urge people who don't feel well to go see someone and get it sorted.
The level of excellence in Northern Ireland in cancer treatment is fantastic. The only problem is the waiting list. But the expertise is astonishing; it's world class.
Q. What's the ambition that keeps driving you onwards?
A. Just to do better each day. I love what I do and I've been doing it a long time. I want to stay curious and finding out where we're going - that keeps me going.
Another thing is that I love people. I find the biggest problem I have at the moment because I'm shielding is that I miss the face-to-face contact with people. Zoom is great, but it's not the same.
In terms of Northern Ireland, I hope for progress, respect, politics at work in terms of health and education, and for people to be able to have better lives. Politics should be the means where people can obtain a better life.
Q. What's the philosophy you live by?
A. Live in the moment. You can't change the past and you can't predict your future. That's called mindfulness, by the way.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
A. As someone who did his best.
Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI is the only charity in Northern Ireland solely dedicated to fighting leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other related conditions. Visit llni.co.uk for more information or to donate