From cue taking to call taking!
Hazel Pude first set foot on stage at the age of six and has since starred in countless pantos, theatre productions and was even a main character in the Geordie classic Byker Grove.
But it’s her latest role which gives her the biggest challenge.
The 28 year-old has been a vital member of our communications department for the past three years, taking hundreds of emergency calls each week, often responding to distressing and difficult situations in real time with no rehearsals or second takes.
She said: “After working in the industry for 10 years I just wanted to come back home. This job is great because we never get two days the same and I like the idea that I never know who I’m going to speak to – nothing can prepare you for this job until you’re there actually taking the calls.
“When people call us they are in a state of fear and panic and it’s my job to keep calm – keep calm and carry on just like they say in show business. They are worlds apart, but it helps having that experience – being able to cope with things out of my comfort zone and dealing with things I didn’t expect.”
After countless auditions while still at school, Hazel played Toni Armitage in the final series of hit children’s TV show Byker Grove before moving to Liverpool aged 16 for a three-year scholarship at Liverpool Theatre School.
She then travelled the UK working on productions like Cinderella and Snow White before landing a presenting role on Made in Tyne and Wear TV where she interviewed the likes of Busted and Jedward.
Hazel, who also teaches at Elite Dance in Sunderland, added: “I’m still relatively new in the Force, but nothing fazes me anymore - I’ve taken some very difficult calls but I’m lucky to work with a team that look out for me and are incredibly supportive.
“It can be very hard to hear people in distress, especially children, but I just focus on the fact we play such an important role in the Force.
“I would love for members of the public to come in and see just how many calls we take that are not genuine emergencies and see what we face every day, I think it would be a real eye opener - and we know it’s only going to harder over the next few weeks, so please only call 999 if it’s a genuine emergency.”
Remember, there are other ways to report incidents and information to us:
- Visit our website and use the Report an Incident/Tell us Something page.
- Call 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in place.