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The Exchange: Wednesday


Martin Cooper

After being found in a dustbin behind British Home Stores in 1982, Martin Cooper grew slightly older year by year in his hometown of Darwen in Lancashire, where he was raised by his mother and a brown bear which she had rescued from a local circus.

Surviving on nuts and hard-boiled eggs, Martin soon discovered his voice and hence forth got himself a job working on local radio, where he fell in love with a discarded javelin in a nearby school field. 

Together Martin, and the javelin (who he named Jarvis), decided to move to the bright lights of Manchester, where he now finds himself presenting The Exchange on a Wednesday evening. How he got the job, we just don't know. He claims he walked in on the station manager changing, and threatened to blackmail him if he didn't get his own show! The truth, they say, is out there.


Simon Catterall

Showman Simon Catterall will be known to many as one of trio making up The Showbears (www.theshowbears.com) as featured on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent.

“I suppose I’ve always had a thing for entertaining people – used to be in all the nativity plays at school.. first as the “animal” parts, pulling faces… then narrating, as I used to do a ‘Kenneth Williams’ voice for King Herod… though my ‘Charles Hawtrey’ was frowned on for Angel Gabriel…” says Simon.

At 33, Simon came out as gay. “It was all change, but now I am how I am, I couldn’t be happier”, he added.

Simon joined Gaydio in 2014 to chat about both the serious and lighter sides of life and react to peoples thoughts and entertain in a different way.

“The people who put such hard work into what goes on air are really great to work with, with such personality and diverse character, each show is unique,” says Simon.


Jacqui Gavin

Jacqui Gavin has been involved with transgender issues since transitioning in 1988. A promising modelling career in the Nineties came to a premature end for her when she was outed by a number of tabloid newspapers.

Jacqui became a civil servent in the Department for Work and Pensions in 2009, and a year later, she had volunteered to become involved with a:gender - a cross-Civil Service support network for staff who identify as transgender and Intersex and was instrumental in establishing the DWP's own transgender staff network.

By March 2013, Jacqui had become the Chair of a:gender, and her workload and inflence increased, becoming responsible for dealing with the Permanent Secretaries Network on matters of Civil Service Equality and Diversity Policy and providing awareness training for various government departments and agencies. Jacqui has also worked with external groups such as police forces, universities and local authorities to raise awareness of transgender issues.

Outside of her day job, Jacqui is currently involved with Diversity Role Models, a charity intended to raise awareness amongst young people about the realities of LGBT lives and the negative effects of homophobic and transphobic bullying and language. She is also on the organisation committee for Liverpool Pride.


Samantha Valentine

Samantha Valentine is a trans activist who has drawn on her experiences to empower other members of the transgender community.

She is currently developing a brand new trans support group within the North West.

As a panellist on The Exchange she not only carries the torch for the transgender community but also for cat lovers everywhere.

It's because of her drive that she's known as 'Samantha the Panther'!


Mark Willis

Mark Willis joined the team at Gaydio shortly after graduating from Salford University with a 2:1 degree in Journalism in June 2014. He has always been interested in LGBT issues and was an active member of his university's LGBT society. 

Mark also has a keen interest in music, and when he is not joining the panel on The Exchange, Mark writes for popular music website and has interviewed many artists, including 'Say Something' duo A Great Big World about their work with Christina Aguilera and their LGBT rights song 'Everyone Is Gay'.

Outside of work, Mark can be found raving at concerts or enjoying a night on Manchester's Canal Street. He is a massive lover of pop music, and enjoys several sci-fi/horror TV shows including Doctor Who, Supernatural and American Horror Story.


Lucy Lush

After winning a talent competition in a Manchester bar at the tender age of 15, Lucy Lush entered the cabaret circuit, touring Germany, Holland and France before returning back to the UK to study dance and performance arts at London's Pineapple Dance Studios.

Lucy is also keen on magic and had her own successful illusion act which toured bars and clubs across the country, but these days, she is one of the team that comprise the Camp Cooks (www.campcooks.co.uk), a group of female impersonators who travel around the UK in their trusty 1968 Airstream named 'Priscilla'.

Lucy joined Gaydio in 2012 as a panelist on The Exchange. Lucy is also a researcher for Gaydio documentaries.

BACK TO TOP Photos © Tony Smith Photography

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