Heaven and Hell: Kerry Cross

Kerry Cross will be running London Marathon this weekend in memory of her dad Richard

Kerry Cross will be running London Marathon this weekend in memory of her dad Richard - Credit: Kerry Cross

Kerry has raised thousands of pounds for cancer charities in memory of her dad Richard, who the family lost to the disease in 2017 after a courageous battle. This weekend she runs London Marathon for Marie Curie, once again in his honour. She speaks to Gina Long..

What’s the impact of Covid-19 been on your life? 

I think, like everyone, Covid took a lot of getting used to. It was and still is a surreal experience. I remember going out to the supermarket back in March 2020, and everyone was wearing masks and the queue was over an hour long - it felt like something out of an apocalypse film. My husband Luca was furloughed for the majority of last year and I was working full time from home, which meant we got to see a lot more of each other. We enjoyed having a tea break together at 3pm every day where we would sit on the front doorstep and relish in the quiet. Our cats also enjoyed having us home all the time! 

One thing that helped to keep me grounded throughout lockdown was meditating, which I fell back in love with thanks to the online drop-in sessions with Norwich Buddhist Centre.  

What is your connection to East Anglia? 

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I live in Norwich with my husband Luca and our three cats. I moved from Attleborough to Norwich to attend the UEA back in 2013. My family moved to Norfolk from London about 20 years ago, and we’ve lived here ever since.  

What is your East Anglian Heaven i.e. what do you love most about East Anglia? 

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It’s got to be Norwich itself. The history, the communities, the culture. It’s got a brilliant live music scene, plenty of options for theatre and not to mention the excellent pubs too. I love the juxtaposition of its history and its lively buzz, and it just feels so homely for a city. 

What is your East Anglian Hell?

The public transport can be a bit hit and miss, especially the buses. 

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark? 

The Plantation Gardens. Luca and I had our wedding photos taken there recently and I forgot how magical it is. It’s such a gem, an oasis of calm in the middle of the city and it’s kept pristine thanks to a team of volunteers. 

Kerry and Luca's wedding day

Kerry and Luca's wedding day - Credit: Luis Holden

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year? 

I really enjoy the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. It showcases some brilliant local in areas such as visual art, music and theatre, and spans different venues and spaces in Norwich and across the county. It was wonderful to see the festival return this year after a year of pandemic and I’m lucky to work at the Sainsbury Centre, which hosted some of the visual artists. 

What is your favourite restaurant? 

My favourite restaurant is Benoli, they do the most delicious pasta there! It’s got such a great atmosphere and the staff are so warm and knowledgeable too. As a vegan, it’s really refreshing to see a well thought out vegan menu with similar options to the main menu. I’d recommend the porcini and summer truffle bucatini, it’s so delicious. I’d also recommend some of the wonderful vegan eateries we’re lucky to have, with Tofurei and The Tipsy Vegan being my favourites.  

What your specialist Mastermind subject? 

I wish I could say it was something very academic but growing up I was obsessed with Harry Potter. I read the books so much that all the covers fell off and I could quote (and still can) the films off by heart, so I think it’d have to be my specialist subject. 

What is always in your fridge? 

Oat milk, mushrooms, dates. Not mixed up together I should add! 

What’s your simple philosophy of life? 

Something my dad once said to me – ‘remember who you are’. At the time, I remember thinking ‘well how could I forget who I am?’, but I’ve come to realise that he was saying always remember where you came from, know who you are inside and don’t let anything or anyone change that. To fully understand who you are and what you are capable of is so powerful, and it is something you can always come back to in difficult times.  

What’s your favourite film? 

Wow that’s a tough question. I’m a bit of a history geek, having focused specifically on WWII for part of my undergraduate degree, so one of favourites is Inglorious Basterds. Not very historically accurate but a pretty satisfying ending.  

What was your first job? 

I was 16 when I got a part time job working in a fish and chip shop. I remember being absolutely petrified on my first day. The couple that ran it were so kind though and I think of them often. As a shy teenager, it really helped to push me out of comfort zone and chatting to customers became my favourite thing about the job. Well that, and getting to take home free chips at the end of the night. 

What is your most treasured possession? 

My childhood doll, creatively named Sleepy Dolly. I’ve had her for as long as I can remember and is completely falling apart now, but I don’t have the heart to throw her away. My husband thinks she’s creepy but I think she’s cute.  

Who do you admire most? 

I’m not sure admire is the right word, but the Buddha. 

What is your biggest indulgence? 

One of my best friend’s grandmother makes this peanut butter, biscuity chocolate flapjack we call Peanut Crack. I’m not privy to the secret recipe but it’s one of the best things you’ll ever eat. Thanks Nanny Jean! 

Kerry Cross running the Snetterton 10k

Kerry Cross running the Snetterton 10k - Credit: Inspire Races

What do you like about yourself most? 

My compassion for others. 

What’s your worst character trait? 

Procrastination, 100%.  

Where is your favourite holiday destination? 

My favourite ever holiday was to Slovenia in 2018. We chose it on a bit of a whim, as we wanted to go somewhere we didn’t know much about. We stayed in the tiny village of Bohinjska Bistrica and it was so peaceful. We were surrounded by forests and mountains, something you don’t see everyday if you live in East Anglia. It’s a very unspoilt and green place and we fully immersed ourselves in the natural world there. We went swimming in the lakes, visited underground caves and had a go at white water rafting (and did a bit of relaxing sometimes!). I’d go back there in a heartbeat. 

Best day of your life? 

My wedding day. Luca and I got married in May after having to cancel our original wedding plans due to Covid-19. We originally planned a big wedding with all our extended family but ended up having a much smaller and more casual day, with the wedding at Norwich Castle and the reception at The Georgian Townhouse, and it was even better than we could’ve imagined. The highlight for me was having our photographs at The Plantation Gardens, we had so much fun. 

What’s your favourite breakfast? 

Freshly made vegan pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup. It’s normally something I have as a treat as I’m rubbish at making pancakes! 

What’s your favourite tipple? 

I don’t drink much anymore but you can’t beat margarita, especially in the summer. They always remind me of being on holiday. You also can’t beat a strong cup of tea with oat milk. 

What’s your hidden talent? 

I haven’t found it yet but there’s time.

What’s your earliest memory? 

My mum used to work for Hasbro when we lived in London, and I remember going to one of her work party’s and meeting Barney the Dinosaur. I was so excited to meet my hero.

Tell us something people don’t know about you? 

I’m really going to embarrass myself here, but I’ve watched every episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It’s my very guilty pleasure, and I both love and hate it at the same time. 

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you? 

You’re not good enough. 

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else? 

We’re lucky to have it all here – great countryside, great culture, great people. My family and friends live in and around Norfolk and lockdown made me realise just how important it is for me to have them close by. I couldn’t get by without them. 

What do you want to tell our readers about most? 

I’m running the London Marathon! *insert scream here* I’m running on behalf of Marie Curie in memory of Dad, who passed away from cancer in 2017. Marie Curie were one of charities that made it possible for my Dad to stay at home and supported my mum with his care. Without them, we would have missed out on the irreplaceable few weeks we had with him after his diagnosis. He was such a clever and kind man, with a wicked sense of humour and was loved by so many. I hope to do him proud by raising £2,000 for Marie Curie, so any donations would be gratefully received. https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/kerryrunsthemarathon  

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