Ex-Emmerdale star Samantha Giles on supporting Claire House, performing in Merseyside and penning her touching book about two seriously ill children.

 “We’ve all dreamed about winning the lottery,” says actress Samantha Giles. “And the Claire House lottery is a fun way that people can support seriously ill children.  

“It’s not just about winning, it’s also about raising money and helping people, which is key.” 

It’s a weekday in Wirral and the ex-Emmerdale star is taking some time out between theatre shows to raise awareness for her local children’s hospice.  

Samantha, who played Bernice Blackstock in the ITV soap, is performing at the Floral Pavilion, where she is starring in The Syndicate, a stage show about lottery winners. 

And given the lottery theme, Samantha is keen to chat about the Claire House lottery, which is vital to helping seriously and terminally ill children and their families.  

The show’s New Brighton dates mean Samantha can spend time at home in Liverpool with daughters Eve, 15, and Olivia, 11, (something she’s grateful for during GCSE week) before she’s back touring the county.  

Did being a mum inspire Samantha to support Claire House? 

“I’ve got two girls. And, in the last few years, I’ve written some children’s books, so I have a vested interest in children and what they’re going through.  

“The last book I wrote, Heart of A Lion, is yet to be published but is very special to me. It’s about a child with heart disease and another child who was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  

“My friend’s daughter was born with congenital heart disease and had two major strokes. She did get a heart transplant, but very sadly she died just over a year ago, a few weeks before her 18th birthday.  

“I can’t imagine what my friend, and other parents who lose children, must go through. Nobody should lose their child. Families need every bit of support, as do the children who are dealing with different health conditions.”  

Having won money for the charity on TV game show, Big Star’s Little Star in 2016, Samantha knows the difference Claire House makes. 

Samantha, 52, says: “We had a look around Claire House and it’s an amazing place. It does lots of things for children and their families, offering respite care as well as helping children and young people at the end of life.” 

Since then, she has swapped the Dales for the stage and is playing kind-hearted supermarket worker Denise in the stage adaptation of Kay Mellor’s TV series about lottery winners. 

She says: “Theatre compared to television is much more full-on because of the travelling and the energy it takes to get on stage each night and sustain that level of energy, and deal with nerves!  

“But you’ve got the reaction of the audiences, which is great.  

“I’ve been fortunate that Gaynor [Faye, director] knew I could play this role, whereas a casting director may not have thought I’d have been able to do it because it’s so different to Bernice.  

“But it’s been so lovely to play. Kay’s work is very much loved across the country. The characters are very relatable. And what Kay [Gaynor’s mum] was so great at was capturing believable dialogue from any age group.  

“It’s very funny, but quite moving. The message is money is fantastic, and a life-changing sum of money gives you a choice, but for some of the characters in the show it doesn’t guarantee happiness. 

Samantha adds: “I’m sure many people are in lottery syndicates. With the Claire House lottery, the more people that do it, the more people Claire House can help.  

“It’s a relatively small amount of money for people to find [£1 per week] but it can make a big difference to others. And it’s a lot of money to win [whether it’s £1,000 or £10,000].”