Ning Baizura showed yet another side of her at a recent charity concert, writes Zaharah Othman.
AMID the glitter of a thousand stars, our very own Ning Baizura shone when she opened (and later closed) the 21st anniversary of the charity concert When You Wish Upon A Star.
There was none of the backstage nerves — she was worried about co-hosting with a more experienced presenter, Zoe Tyler, and presenting in English before an audience she was not familiar with.
The Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham witnessed Ning’s debut as a presenter at an event by a much cherished charity which has granted over 14,500 wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
From meeting Father Christmas in Lapland and football idols to visiting Disneyworld, many children have had their wishes come true. Ning has had a hand in it by creating awareness and raising funds for the charity.
“It was such an honour, something that I had been looking forward to for almost a year since receiving an invitation,” she said after the concert.
It all began last year when her sister-in-law Nicky Agnew, who is involved with the charity and the production, suggested that Ning take part. Earlier this year, Ning and husband Omar Shariff (also known as Chris Dalton), who comes from Nottingham, came over to rehearse with the choir groups, dance teams, acrobats and other performers, young and old.
“The performances, from the youngest to one aged 70, were all from the heart. All the talents had one thing in common —a love so big and incomparable to none other, a dedication to this charity,” said Ning.
The audience in the Royal Concert Hall clapped to the rhythm of the dance teams and laughed at the comedy served up that evening. They were attentive when clips of interviews with children who had since lost their battle to illnesses, were played.
Ning said: “I cried watching the clips of parents who had lost their children and realised how dedicated they were to this charity.
“I learnt so much, not only from Zoe Tyler but also from those in the production who had worked so hard without expecting payment in return. It had been a wonderful journey. Simply inspiring.”
Ning opened the show in a glittering black kebaya and led a cast of more than 30 people to sing the theme song When You Wish Upon A Star.
“I was proud to wear the kebaya. It was the Malaysian element in a concert that was full of variety,” said Ning, who later had the audience on their feet with a Bollywood routine.
Ning’s sentiment was echoed by Nicky: “The event is not only focused in the United Kingdom, but also in other regions such as Lapland (Finland, Sweden, Norway and some parts of Russia) and the United States. So it’s nice to add an international feel to the event, which I think Ning did.”
Omar, who single-handedly attended to Ning from make-up and wardrobe to capturing more than 900 shots of her onstage, agreed: “She did a great job!”
It was certainly a great evening for all. Ning, for one, discovered another dimension to her skills onstage. And the UK audience certainly hasn’t seen the last of Ning.