Rebecca Williams’ Birthday

Rebecca Williams

Rebecca Williams. International megastar. And my mate.

I just posted a news story about it being Tom Baker’s 81st birthday today, and realised I hadn’t really though that through. You see, while I bow to no-one in my admiration for Mr Baker, I have someone of staggering talent and breathtaking personality much closer to home who also happens to celebrate her birthday today.

I’m talking about Rebecca Williams.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you may be a bit of a geek, and so may not know who she is. If on the other hand you happen to follow the World Rally Championship, you’re probably swooning right now and calling me a lucky bastard (she has something of a fan base). Yes, I mean that Rebecca Williams. And yes, I real-life know her.

Rebecca Williams is a journalist, broadcaster, honey-voiced vocal artist and in specialised circles, a bit of an international megastar. She’s also my friend.

You know that feeling you get the first  time you meet someone truly extraordinary? Not just common-or-garden extraordinary, but the kind of extraordinary that leaves you with your mouth hanging open and your brain double-checking – ‘Wait, did that really just happen?’

That’s the feeling you get the first time you meet Rebecca Williams. I was a teenager, volunteering in a local hospital radio station when this child with hair the colour of hellfire, eyes a ridiculous whirlpool blue and a personality like a benevolent punch in the face breezed in, introduced herself, made everyone in the room smile and breezed right the hell out again. This, I thought, is a kid worth getting to know.

One of the best instinctive judgments of my life, that. We got to know each other more and more, and, at this remove she’s perfectly aware that as I happened at the time to be in my ‘scheming Machiavellian bastard’ phase, I threw various notes of chaos into her teenaged life, mostly as a way of keeping us both interested and keeping us on the same side.

We held teenaged crisis briefings at my house or hers to sort out her insanely tangled life, and at one point, we were writing a book together. It came from a moment of sharing the same sense of humour about, of all things, contaminated custard slices, and I swear to this day it’s the thing I’ve written that makes me laugh most in the world. Sure, everyone else hates it, but in a way, that makes it even better to me.

Rebecca’s gone on to entrance a generation of Rally fans around the world, but she still technically lives here in Merthyr, near her mum, because above all, and beyond the intellect and the skill, beyond the incredible personal maturity I’ve seen her show in her life, refusing to be trapped or boxed or accept only pre-determined options for her life, beyond the fantastic capacity for silliness and the autumn sunshine laugh, Rebecca’s got one of the best hearts I’ve ever seen. No matter what, she’s got time for people, for her family, for her fans, for her friends around the world.

So on this day of celebration that she’s here on this planet at the same time as the rest of us, I figured it was time to say a thank you. ‘S’been a ride so far, Bec. Happy birthday, and here’s to the fabulous future, daaaaahling!


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