BY MATTY SUTTON
FROM singing at fundraisers in local social clubs when she was younger, to helping some of the city's biggest charity events, Glasgow's Star Turn judge Michelle McManus is determined to give something back.
The former Pop Idol winner and Evening Times columnist regularly supports children's and young people's charities across Glasgow.
Most recently, she joined five girls from Ypeople, the charity that supports vulnerable people, to help them prepare for a fashion show.
The young fashionistas, who get help from Ypeople's supported housing project in Branston Court, Maryhill, got to try on evening wear at Eleganza Sposa, Bath Street, ahead of their catwalk appearance at the YLadies Lunch at the Radisson Blu on June 23.
Michelle, who was inspired to get involved with the charity when she met a representative from Ypeople at the Film G Awards, said: "It was a lovely day and the girls were so excited.
"Some of the gowns they were trying on were really expensive, one costs a couple of thousand pounds, so it was a lovely treat for the girls to wear them.
"I got involved with YPeople because it helps young adults in Scotland.
"I just like the charity's whole approach.
"I think young people get a lot of bad coverage in the media but this seemed to be something that was all positive surrounding young people."
In support of her main charity, HCPT, which helps children with special needs to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, Michelle travels to France every Easter for a week-long holiday camp. The children have severe disabilities or come from difficult social backgrounds.
She began volunteering at 15 for the charity, which takes more than 2000 UK children, from newborn babies to 16-year-olds, on pilgrimage.
When she was living in Glasgow's East End, she was invited to help out on the trip. Now Michelle is trained as a fully fledged 'helper'.
She said: "You are with the kids every minute of every day for the full week, there is no break. But that is why you take a week out of your life to go do it.
"Most of these children are living at home with their parents. Their parents are their full-time carers and have never in the child's life had a break – they don't put their children into care, they don't go on holiday without them, or go out for a wee dinner, because these kids need everything.
"Some of these children are 15 or 16 and their minds are like yours or mine, but they are trapped in a body that has let them down.
"They want to be with other children and not have their mum coming in every morning.
"The flipside of that is their mum and dad might get to go on a holiday, which is something they have never been able to do."
Michelle finds working with the children rewarding and that is what keeps her going back every year.
"You take away a child on a Sunday morning and you deliver a completely different child back, in a positive way, because there is a sense of freedom for these youngsters."
She has also been involved in supporting Yorkhill Hospital For Sick Children from a young age, and remembers taking part in fundraisers at St Bridget's Primary, Baillieston, when she was a pupil there.
When she was five Michelle was in the hospital with a perforated ear drum, and that is what has motivated her to support the charity.
She said: "It was nothing like what half of these children are in Yorkhill for, but I think the thing about Yorkhill is we all have an experience of it, we all know someone who has been helped by the wonderful people at that hospital."
HER parents were always keen to help charities in whatever way they could while Michelle was growing up and now she is determined to help.
She said: "I'm not Madonna, but I live a very privileged life. You can never classify what I do as work.
"I have sung for the Pope and I get to sing for people when I do these events. I don't work nine to five and I have time on my hands, so whenever I can I like to give something back.
"If my name helps a charity or helps to endorse it or bring any publicity to it, I just feel I want to do it – it is the way I was raised.
"When you are grateful for your life you somehow want to find a way to say 'Thank you very much' and a lot of people choose charity to do that.
"It's not specifically because I am in the public eye, I just want to find a way to say thank you for all the blessings and fabulous life I have."
MICHELLE is "delighted" to see Glasgow's Star Turn hotting up as the top 60 went to the readers' vote yesterday.
She said: "I think it is excellent for the public to say, 'This is who we want to go through and perform on the night',
"I have a lot of faith in the Glasgow public. They know their music. It is a big part of our city and our culture and I have a lot faith in Evening Times' readers to put forward 10 fantastic acts, so that on the night we are sitting there, biting our nails, thinking 'who are we going to pick?
"I am so excited about the final at the Old Fruitmarket on July 30."
n Michelle McManus met youngsters who are helped by the charity YPeople at Branston Court in Maryhill, Glasgow. They were trying on evening wear at Eleganza Sposa, Bath Street, before getting tips about performing on stage ahead of the charity's annual YLadies Lunch and Fashion show. From the left they are Isra Shahini, Sarah Amer, Michelle, Melissa Love, Becci Webster and Danielle Esdale Picture: Colin Mearns
I just want to find a way to say thank you for the fabulous life I have