Event Review: Dan Walker in conversation with Trisha Cooper
Written by: Amber O’Connor
What do Tiger Woods, Jesus Christ, and Napoleon have in common? They are the three special guests Dan Walker would invite round for dinner, if he had the
This evening of conversation between Dan and fellow broadcaster Trisha Cooper featured
several insights about Dan and the people he admires. His career in journalism has led him
to meet multiple fascinating figures – he hasn’t met Napoleon, but he has interviewed the
last six prime ministers. However, this event was not about extraordinary people, or at least,
it was not about people with extraordinary backgrounds or jobs. As Dan phrases it, this
event, like his new book, was made to celebrate “ordinary but remarkable people”. In the
book Dan has been able to return to the stories that have stayed with him and interview the
people at the heart of them; he has brought together the stories that have touched him
throughout his career, stories that are often of personal struggle, but which can also provide
hope for us all.
Dan has selected subjects with a variety of stories to tell, including a mother who lost her
son during the Manchester Arena attack and then retrained in counter terrorism, a couple
who saved the lives of four children after donating their daughter’s organs, and the boy who
learned to walk again after watching Captain Tom, who then also raised millions for charity.
The common thread that links these stories together is that they each focus on remarkable
people. Dan hopes that every chapter will leave the reader with something to think about,
and he takes great care to capture the bravery and kindness exhibited by these people that
“mean a lot” to him.
He also took the opportunity to talk about another person that is dear to him, though he is
not featured in the book: his friend, Tony Foulds. Dan famously met Tony by chance in
Endcliffe park, where Tony was tending the Mi Amigo memorial. Together they got
permission from the Pentagon for the flypast to mark the 75 th memorial in 2019, and people
all over Sheffield came together to pay their respects. In fact, 15,000 people turned up in
Endcliffe park at 8:45am to watch the event with Tony, thousands more than Dan even
dreamed would attend. He was right to tell his boss at the BBC “the people of Sheffield
won’t let you down”; they all came together to show their gratitude, both to the airmen
who died in their efforts to land their plane safely away from a group of children, and to
Tony, one of those boys, who has ensured their sacrifice would not be forgotten.
This event enabled Dan to talk of the many people he admires, too many to fit in one book,
as well as the stories he has learned of since he finished writing. A couple of weeks ago,
walking through Endcliffe with Tony, the pair were approached by a woman who had her
own remarkable story to share. After years of struggling with alcohol addiction, their story
had inspired her to quit drinking. After seeing the footage on the news, she decided to
attend the Mi Amigo memorial, and witnessing the community come together in that wayprompted her to try to quit. This woman’s experience poignantly demonstrates that nobody is alone, and that all of our stories connect with each other’s.
In selecting people that he finds remarkable to feature in his book, Dan has created a
multitude of new future outcomes, ones which can influence readers for the better.
Modestly, he remarked that if his work doesn’t achieve anything further than helping the
woman from the park it would have been worth it, but I suspect it will help many more
people. The most remarkable thing about Dan’s decision to write this book is that courage
inspires courage and kindness generates further loving acts, and in celebrating the brilliance
of these remarkable people, we are all prompted to act with the same bravery and
generosity in our own lives.