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When the Heat is on, Michelle hangs tough

J I LIKE Michelle Heaton. Some may not, but I do. Remember when she first came to light – as a member of pop group, Liberty X? I have a story about Liberty X that I like to tell. It was back in the day of post Big Brother.

I played a celebrity basketball match and they were on the opposing team. I can't even remember who was on my team – we were such dud celebrities. Anyway the most memorable thing about the match is that I was squaring up to Kelli Young, from the group, and went to take the ball from her but instead shoved my elbow in her face and split her lip open. Ahhh, memories.

Anyway, Michelle was from the early Noughties girl-band era, where the likes of Atomic Kitten and The Sugababes put out some rocking tunes and it seemed like she was another wannabe reality star/Wag/whatever. But she was appealing in her enthusiasm for the job. She has turned up for opening ceremonies of crushing banality yet smiled through it all.

I witnessed her guest appearance on The Irish Apprentice and saw her tripping over when her heel got caught. As the camera zoomed in – she laughed it off, no histrionics and no embarrassment. This 'pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again' attitude has stood her in good stead.

Last year Michelle was told that she had the BRCA2 gene, which meant that there was an 80pc chance she would develop breast cancer.

Imagine hearing that news.

She took the brave decision to have a double mastectomy and to go public about it. Now she's out there and still smiling.

Michelle Heaton has been around the entertainment scene for more than 10 years. We have seen her be a singer, a dancer, a judge on You're A Star, a subject of a documentary about binge drinking, and a contestant in a million and one reality and quiz shows.

She's got a fighting spirit and an inextinguishable desire to work. In a world where 'slebs' come and go, this girl has outlasted a great many. And for that – I salute her.