Cheshire Life Exclusive

Suzan Holder: My November column in Cheshire Life – the most personal
I have ever written

I saw a sight I thought I would never see again earlier this year… my incredible husband, back on stage, captivating an audience with hilarious, slightly naughty stories and singing his heart out with a voice still distinctive and powerful.

To watch him do what he does so brilliantly was thrilling, entertaining and profoundly moving. You see, five years ago we were given the devastating news that he had oesophageal cancer and only had six months to live.

I’m sorry if that comes as a bit of a shock; it came as a total bombshell to us too. We coped with it the only way we could, by hunkering down, sticking together and doing everything we could to survive it. We told only immediate close family and friends and I will never apologise to those we did not confide in, only to those who were forced to suffer pain and anguish alongside us as we attempted to navigate our way through this new and horrifying world. They held our hands and kept our confidence. We truly found out who our real friends are.

The prognosis was bleak but Noddy coped with amazing good humour and breath-taking bravery. He put himself in the hands of the experts at The Christie Hospital in Manchester and agreed to a gruelling course of experimental treatment as part of a brand-new trial of intense chemotherapy. There were no guarantees, no one knew if it would have any effect, let alone work miracles, but he responded well. As anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis will know, the experts never like to use the word ‘cure’, but here we are five years later and he’s feeling good and looking great.

Great British Life: Noddy Holder in his Slade heydayNoddy Holder in his Slade heyday (Image: PA Features Archive)

So when an opportunity to perform on stage arose this summer, Noddy was thrilled to be able to do it. He has never had any interest in attempting to recreate his Slade days, he’s proud of the 25 years he spent in the band but that time is behind him. New challenges are what interests and excites him. He was tempted back on stage by an invitation from Cheshire musician Tom Seals.

The wonderful young boogie-woogie piano player leads a swinging eight-piece jazz band that plays all over the world. The show they put together was like a live Desert Island Discs, with Noddy picking a few of his favourite songs for the band to play and telling stories about how those tunes linked to his life. They first played a beautiful theatre in Wimborne, Dorset, then a triumphant hometown gig in Noddy’s beloved Walsall in the West Midlands. The short run ended with a spellbinding show at The Lowry theatre in Manchester. Every gig was a sell-out.

Great British Life: Noddy and Suzan Holder who stole the show together at the Cheshire Life and Creative Connecting in Cheshire charity evening for CAFT. (c) Kirsty ThompsonNoddy and Suzan Holder who stole the show together at the Cheshire Life and Creative Connecting in Cheshire charity evening for CAFT. (c) Kirsty Thompson

I watched each night as Noddy took to the stage in a leopard-print top hat, colourful clothes and snazzy shoes, and held the audience spellbound with tales of his rock ’n’ roll antics that included references to The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Muhammad Ali and Cliff Richard, among many others. He had fans roaring with laughter at his unique take on 60 years in the crazy showbiz world and then holding back tears as he talked for the first time about his cancer journey.

The show-stopping surprise for the audience, however, was the finale when Noddy picked up the mic and belted out a couple of numbers to close the show. I know so many people reading this will have experienced a cancer diagnosis for themselves or a loved one. The only advice I can offer to anyone facing a similar battle right now is listen to your specialists and try to stay as positive as you can.

The care and expertise we experienced at The Christie was excellent. In addition, Noddy has always been great at living in the moment, not hankering for the past or worrying about the future. That attitude served him well and a lot of his recovery has been credited to his positive mental attitude. You need so much mental strength to get through something like this. I’ve always been impressed by my husband’s focus and determination but now I am completely in awe.

There may be more shows with Tom in the future* but for now I am simply grateful my husband continues to be his mischievous, irrepressible self whatever he is up to. Look to the future now, Noddy… Coz I Luv You… 

Twitter/X: @HolderSuzan
IG: @suzholder15
FB: Suzan Holder Author

*Noddy will be a special guest of Tom Seals and his incredible band at their Christmas Spectacular at Crewe Lyceum theatre on December 1st.
Tickets available now from

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A word from the editor

A few months ago, Cheshire Life ran an interview with the Coronation Street actor Simon Gregson who plays Steve McDonald. It was a fascinating feature, penned stylishly and sensitively by Armand Beasley, within which, alongside many other things, Simon talked about his struggles with mental health.

READ MORE: Simon Gregson and Emma Gregory on their life in Cheshire

A few days after the magazine came out, The Sun ran a self-proclaimed ‘exclusive’ with the headline: ‘SIMON’S BATTLE: I suffered with anxiety for over 20 years but sought treatment after “eureka moment”, reveals Corrie’s Simon Gregson.’

Within it (and despite the claim to exclusivity) they made several references to the Cheshire Life article, presumably to stave off any accusations of plagiarism. But the story was skewed beyond recognition. Simon took to his @fat_dracula Instagram account, where he posted a pic of himself holding a toilet roll and the message: ‘I see this newspaper is at it again taking a quote from a positive interview from the lovely Cheshire Life and making negatives. That’s a nice interview, let’s re-run it and throw a lot of negative stuff in there.’

All of this was at the forefront of my mind when Suzan Holder dropped her November column into my email one Sunday afternoon with the one-line message: ‘Here it is.’ And then: ‘Handing you the exclusive x.’ I opened the Word doc for a quick glance at Suzan’s musings, which are always funny and beautifully written, only to read the astonishing story of the past five years in the life of her husband, Noddy Holder.

Suzan is a seasoned journalist but I imagine the second paragraph of this particular piece, about the man she has adored and championed during their three decades together, would have taken some doing: ‘Five years ago we were given the devastating news that he had oesophageal cancer and only had six months to live,’ she wrote.

I’ve got to know Suzan a little in the couple of years she has been a columnist with Cheshire Life and met Noddy several times when he has joined her at our events. They have the tightest of partnerships: funny, jokey and loving, and always looking out for each other. And I, like most other people, apart from their close friends and family, had no idea what was going on in their lives during a time when Suzan has published two books and become a regular face on television, and Noddy has gone back on the road. I know – and Suzan and Noddy Holder definitely know – that as soon as this magazine hits the streets the story will go viral.

Noddy Holder is a national treasure (he was proclaimed as such when he appeared at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations last year, if we needed any reminding), and there should be little but positivity and admiration for him in the way his news will be reported. (As, of course, there ought to have been with Simon’s story.) Breaking a national news story isn’t Cheshire Life’s usual remit. It is a privilege to be a part of the media entrusted with doing so.

Joanne Goodwin