Beckenham mum's Ann Summers project is inspiration and tonic for sick husband
PUBLISHED: 09:49 20 June 2013 | UPDATED: 09:49 20 June 2013
A taboo subject has finally given a mum of three's family a reason to be proud of her and has even gone some way, she believes, towards helping the recovery of her terminally ill husband.
Hand-picked by Bromley’s own Jacqueline Gold to form part of ‘The O Team’, Jill Gulden Demirel and eight other women became the focus of Channel 4 documentary Sex Toy Stories which followed their efforts in designing a new range of adult products for Ann Summers.
It was in a doctor’s surgery that Jill, of Balmoral Road, Beckenham, saw an advert to apply for the show and decided it would be a good way for her and husband, Huf, to distract themselves from his lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.
“Four months into his chemotheraphy he began to get really depressed,” explained Jill. “We had gone to the doctor’s to get him some anti-depressants and I saw the show advertised in a magazine.
“I just thought ‘wow’. It was the perfect way to take our minds off the cancer and focus on something else.”
Whittled down from about 500 women, Jill was thrust into a world of cameras and invited to Channel 4 headquarters where she and her team set about putting their designs into action.
With her ideas finalised, it was time to present the Panty Pin and Buzzy Bits to Jacqueline, chief executive of Ann Summers, who was rather impressed by Jill’s efforts.
She said: “When we had to pitch to Jacqueline Gold I was absolutely terrified. I’m just a normal mum and had never done anything like this before.
“I was the only one to have two of my ideas selected, which I was over the moon about. Some of the other women didn’t even get one made.”
Meeting Jacqueline, who grew up in Biggin Hill, proved inspirational for Jill and she is now looking to build on the success of getting her ideas onto the shelves of Ann Summers by starting her own adult toy company.
“It’s like she has passed the torch on to me,” she said. “I couldn’t believe what a coincidence it was when we both realised we were from the same area.
“She told me I was her inspiration, which I didn’t understand at first. But she explained that she was inspired by me using the process as a distraction from my husband’s illness.”
Praise has also come from closer to home, and Jill says this experience has given her family the chance to feel proud of her for the first time.
She said: “I’ve never really done anything for my family to be really proud of, so it was nice to hear. My mum is a little embarrassed by the subject matter, but I’ve told her she’s got to get with the times.”
The influence of the show, according to Jill, has also helped her husband’s recovery from his lymphoma.
Now in remission, Huf was told his condition was terminal in 2011 but a scan three months ago showed no sign of the cancer.
“It really helped him and it was such an eye-opener. We would sit in bed both sketching ideas and writing notes on our pads. It was exactly what we both needed to keep our minds focused on something else.
“We are just hoping now that it doesn’t come back.”
Sex Toy Stories was screened by Channel 4 last week, and can still be seen at channel4.om/programmes/4od.