Ruth Anne Pollard is team leader for the Dee106.3 team as well as being a presenter, singer, songwriter, dancer and teacher. She is an ever present at events across the city from light switch-ons to waterslides, parades and community and charity events.
“We had the Chester Christmas light switch on , on Thursday and we had the Hoole switch on last week , which could have been disasters. ” Torrential rain threatened the Hoole switch on but Ruth says that ” after a lot of praying, the rain stopped just as the event was about to start. The stage didn’t have a cover so we had to make some cover for the artists and the equipment out of two gazebos. In the end it worked out perfectly, it was an amazing night. This week, it was an absolutely amazing event.. the streets were crowded, full of happy Chester people. The genius idea of the 3D glasses, we were broadcasting from the big red bus. There was a technical hitch and the lights didn’t come on at the right time. It could have been an absolute disaster, but for me personally, it was the people that lit Chester up that night, without the need for the lights.
Ruth’s story begins in Liverpool where she was born. “I was adopted into a family in Chester when I was a baby. That’s where my journey in Chester began and it won’t let me leave. It’s like a magnet. All my life, I’ve felt like I was leading to something, but I didn’t know what it was. I started dancing at a very young age and continued all through school, did my A levels.” When she was 19 she went to Merseyside dance and drama school but she says that ” I only lasted a year, I had to have an operation and couldn’t dance and I also got a bit of bullying there. I got a job straight after that with Radio City as a roadshow dancer. Ruth says that being adopted , it was a ” massive thing not to know who you are. I met my mum when I was 19. It was all a bit much to take in… it was the maddest day of my life”. At this stage of her life her father rejected contact after the exchange of several letters.
She began a 15 year career dancing in nightclubs. ” I thought I’d made it. I was getting paid for what I loved doing. I’ve danced in so many clubs all around the country.” She met her sister randomly, dancing in a club called The Aquarium in Liverpool. ” I saw a girl that looked like me . I asked a friend to go and ask her what her dad’s name was and we hit off it off really well…”
Of her past life she says; ” That life was amazing. It was like going out and getting paid for it. It was either on a podium or a stage, I worked for an agency and we had a community of friends and we loved it. ” She hints at darker times. “You know what comes along with that environment… and I did get pulled into that. Towards the end of the time in the clubs I was praying “I dont want this anymore”. It was the abuse that I was doing to myself and I wanted out for the last few years. I’m all about being honest and being true to myself. My main thing in life is to help people and to give them hope in their lives. I’m not ashamed of my life, I know what people’s perceptions will be of some parts of my life.”
Ruth had a daughter , Tomisha after beginning a relationship with a man she met in Manchester. ” Lets just say it was a volatile relationship, and I was taken to a very low place, and in that place I asked God if He was real. If you’re real then I need your help. The more I prayed that prayer, the more this feeling got stronger, that He was real and He loved me. It was a tangible feeling. My life turned around. I had this new heart for wanting to help people. Nobody on the planet can tell me there isn’t a God.” This is a contrast to her youth : ” I didn’t used to believe in God, I thought it was absolute rubbish. As soon as I was old enough, I stopped going to Church.
“Ever since then, its unbelievable what’s happened”. It was around this time that Ruth was contacted by her father during her pregnancy. They remained in contact for several years after this, but recently lost touch.
She continues. ” Soon after I’d had Tomisha, I carried on my training at City college Manchester. I did 2 years Diploma in Dance , while I was bringing her up and also going through a bad time with her dad.” Eventually she moved back to Chester to live with my mum and dad in Vicars Cross. Ruth gives equal praise to her biological and adopted family, whom she describes as “amazing.” I started going back to Church. Loads of little things changed. I used to swear and I stopped swearing, I used to drop litter and I stopped doing that . Tomisha used to go to her dad’s at the weekend and I still lived quite a wild lifestyle. I carried on training and went to Liverpool theatre school to study a higher national diploma in professional musical theatre. Three of the hardest years of my life. I was commuting there every day, it was 9-5, it was very strict.” This led to further work including the Smash Hits tour in 2002. Ruth toured the country with local singers doing radio roadshows and in 2003 she supported Westlife as a backing dancer for the singer Joanne. “The best job ever” working in stadiums across the country and Ireland.
Ruth began writing songs as an “overflow” of her emerging faith and has recorded over 60 songs. She wrote her first song after the death of Tomisha’s godfather at the hands of a gunman. “I saw him the same day, I met him to give him the baby stuff, he was her dad’s best friend and about three hours later he was dead”
Ruth worked as a volunteer for Flame radio on the Wirral (Christian radio station). “They are amazing. I did three years community evangelism foundation degree with the Light Project in Chester, and then went straight to Luther King House in Manchester to do a Theology degree. It was 6 years back to back of degrees. I’m not an academic person but I felt led to it, and I hated the academic side of it. But with every single assignment I knew I was learning something to apply to my life.
“I got married, but we separated a year later” With her husband she recorded an album , with him featuring on three songs .At the same time she was teaching singing, “mainly giving people confidence” she says, and doing her own gigs. It was around this time she saw the advert for the job at Dee106.3 in 2013.
“I’ve known Irene for years, I’ve been interviewed by them in the past, I was successful in the UK song writing contest 5 years running. I felt like it was a brick wall, I’d contacted them a lot in the past, I’d almost given up. The interview was three hours long, like an audition”
Ruth got the job and it is one she loves. “It’s the perfect job role for me because it’s going out into the community and making people smile. It’s a dream come true. My heart is to give people that boost, or that hope. You know what life’s like… We have Workplace Wednesday where we take free lunches to businesses and give them a plug for free. On a Friday we have cool ride to school, we take kids to school and they meet Chester the Cat.”
“You’ve got Gavin Matthews, who is an absolute legend. The epitome of love. I’ve never him stressed, never seen him angry or anxious. Never seen him have a go at anyone. Irene is so inspiring. Dave Philips, I’ve learned so much from him. Jamie, with his dry sense of humour , he makes me laugh every day. Mike James is an encourager, he puts up with me, he’s really helpful.” Shane Pinnington has also been a “massive support”. Her colleagues on the promotions team, Peter and Frankie, are ” a ball of randomness. Peter was in the original interview as well, we’d had a lot of Dee team members because its only part time work. Lisa Rose, has been there right from the first interview as well. Nick Arkell, another legend, I’ve only just started to get to know him. He asked us to go along to the new scout hut.”
“Someone said to me recently “Ruth are you still hanging around with that Cat?” I don’t know if its a good thing or a bad thing, but its what I’ve become known for. Its become normal for me to be walking around town with a large orange pussy cat.” She loves seeing peoples reactions to the costumed character. “You cant help but smile at Chester the cat” She has done her time “inside” the cat: ” It depends how hot it is, the good thing about it is the number of cuddles you get!” She really misses her “radio Dad” Kieron Fox, whose job she took over. She was given more responsibilities. “I have to do all the social media, I have to drive the van, I’m not allowed to be the cat anymore.”
Ruth presented the love zone on Dee and now hosts a Sunday evening show. ” I’d like to make it an inspirational style show. I love songs with powerful messages, no matter what the genre. I love talking about all the good work that’s going on in the community. I’d love to bring back Dee unsigned, there’s such a demand for it. As a singer songwriter myself, I’ve got a real heart for helping other artists. I’d give them ongoing support. ” On the local scene she champions The Jigsaws, Molly and Ellie, Jon Coley… “The Lovelies are my guilty pleasure!!”
Ruth’s faith plays a huge role in her life. “I’ve spent a lot of time as a single mum, I talk to Jesus a lot, about everything. I pray for the world and everything in it. In 2007 when I was at the Light project I heard the words “World Music Ministry” audibly, as I was going to sleep.” She shared this vision with the other students , who prayed for her. Part of the vision was that she saw herself moving into media. Ruth’s vision is to teach people what she knows, building people up via teaching singing. Her future vision is to set up a performing and visual arts centre, with the profits from World Music Ministry being used to help people around the world.
Ruth’s positive philosophy is that “no matter what you’re going through, I believe that everything happens for a reason, even when you’re in those low places, and you think that there’s no way out, there is. That’s when the light shines through, you’re learning and you’re growing into the person you were meant to be. You have to go to these dark places in order to grow.”