UP IN FLAMES
Pick Me Up Special !|August 2020
Kirsty Cullum, 35, from Basingstoke, loved to perform, but one act went horribly wrong…
HATTIE BISHOP

Lifting the pole above my head, I gently lowered it into my mouth.

‘Go on Mummy,’ my little girl, Annabelle, six, clapped from the sidelines.

As my number one fan, she was there watching me practice for my big performance.

As an NHS health care worker, I’d once again entered the NHS’ Got Talent, to show off my fire breathing skills.

I’d first learnt the art of fire breathing at a circus workshop and had been hooked ever since.

So, in my spare time after work or mum duty, I liked burlesque dancing and fire breathing. It was always a hit at the annual fundraising talent show.

So, when they emailed to announce they were looking for performers again, I quickly signed up and started rehearsing my dangerous routine.

I never used fire in front of Annabelle, but she loved watching me practice my routine without it.

But working with fire can go wrong very quickly, so I made sure to practice with it at least four times a week.

It took a lot of skill and preparation, so I had to be ready.

Then, on the day of the show, I was as confident as ever.

Heading to the Theatre Royal in Winchester, Hampshire, I couldn’t wait to show the crowds my routine.

My friend Drew had come with me to act as my fire spotter.

Armed with an extinguisher and wet towel, he was there in case anything were to happen.

But he had every faith in me.

‘You’re going to be great, Kristy, I promise. You’ve practised this routine countless times.’

I knew he was right. And so, I headed to the dressing room to get ready for my performance.

Then, stepping out onto the stage, I felt a pinch of nerves, but as soon as I started my routine, they quickly washed away.

The crowd were amazed at what I could do and cheered me along the way.

I was thrilled.

Everything was going so well.

Then, getting ready for my last big stunt of the act, I felt totally in control and ready.

But within just a few short seconds, it all went horribly wrong.

Suddenly, I felt a drop of paraffin hit the back of my throat.

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