Johnnie and Tiggy Walker (Copyright BBC)

Johnnie and Tiggy Walker (Copyright BBC)

On Sunday (13 September), radio legend Johnnie Walker and wife Tiggy presented an appeal for Carers UK on BBC One. The appeal, BBC Lifeline, comes as Carers UK celebrates 50 years of making life better for carers; providing advice, information and support services for people who care, unpaid, for a disabled, seriously-ill or older loved one.

There are currently 6.5 million carers in the UK, with this number continuing to rise. By 2037, Carers UK predicts there will be 9 million carers in the UK – a 40% increase(1).

Johnnie and Tiggy became Patrons of Carers UK this year following their experiences of caring for one another at different stages of their lives. Twelve years ago, just three months into their marriage, Tiggy began caring for Johnnie when he was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer. Their roles were then reversed last year when Tiggy was diagnosed with breast cancer and Johnnie became her carer.

 8 in 10 carers have felt lonely or socially isolated as a result of their caring responsibilities. This is something that rang true for Tiggy, who says: “I’d rather be a cancer patient than a carer. There’s no two ways about it. Caring for Johnnie almost destroyed our marriage. It was the hardest and loneliest time of my life and at the time I thought I had to do it on my own.”

Like Tiggy, many carers don’t know where to turn for help. In fact, 6 in 10 carers say that they missed out on the right support for more than two years(2). Carers UK wants to ensure that no-one has to care alone. The charity provides expert advice, information and support services for carers and the BBC Lifeline Appeal explores just how the charity gave carers Norman Phillips, Anne Dickinson and Sue Cuomo the vital support they needed at critical times in their caring journeys(3).

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, says:

“Tiggy and Johnnie’s experiences highlight just how caring can, and will, affect all of us at some point in our lives. Carers UK has one mission – to make life better for carers. We want anyone who is caring for a loved one to know that we are here for them.”

Last year alone, the Carers UK Adviceline responded to almost 20,000 enquiries and their online Forum grew to support a community of over 9,000 carers. As the number of people taking on caring roles steadily rises, so too does the demand on Carers UK’s services.

Heléna Herklots adds:

“No-one should have to care alone, but the reality is that we need donations to continue running the vital information and advice services which provide hope and practical support to so many carers. With your help, we can make a real difference to the lives of today’s carers and the carers of the future.”

BBC Radio 2 DJ Johnnie Walker explains why he became a Patron of Carers UK with his wife, Tiggy, and why the charity needs support:

“Tiggy and I both know how hard looking after someone can be. And you can’t do it alone. You need someone to be there for you too. Caring for someone can turn your life upside down. You go from being equals, to one of you being dependent on the other.

“And the thing about life is you never know what it’ll throw at you next. Having completely recovered from my illness, we then found out that Tiggy had breast cancer. It was traumatising watching the woman I love suffer so much.

“Carers can easily end up feeling completely cut off from the world. I know how important it is to get the right support at the right time. You just can’t do it by yourself and that’s where Carers UK comes in. They really need your help to carry on their work and reach the thousands of carers who are cut off and isolated. With your support, they will. Please give what you can.”

Carers UK’s BBC Lifeline appeal aired on BBC One on Sunday 13 September at 4.30pm and will air on BBC Two on Wednesday 16 September at 1pm (in England, Wales, NI) and 3.35pm (in Scotland) 

You can donate to Carers UK’s BBC Lifeline Appeal in the following ways:

  • Visit:
  • Call: 0800 011 011
  • To donate £10, text GIVE to 70121
  • Post cheques made payable to ‘Carers UK’ to Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal (writing Carers UK on the back of the envelope)

If you are a carer and need advice or support, visit the Carers UK’s website or Forum, or contact the Adviceline on 0808 808 1111/