Highgate mental health charity chief tells of colourful life on Desert Island Discs

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE, relaxes at her Highgate home. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE, relaxes at her Highgate home. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A Highgate-based mental health charity chief opened up about her colourful life on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday.

Marjorie Wallace told interviewer Kirsty Young that she has suffered from mental health issues after working with some of society’s most vulnerable people for the last few decades – first as a journalist and then as chief executive and founder of SANE.

Speaking of her own “winter of the mind”, she called for a greater understanding of mental illness and more government resources.

“It was one of the reasons I founded SANE, which I have been dedicated to for nearly 30 years,” the former Countess Skarbek told the Ham&High after appearing on the popular BBC radio show. “

Ms Wallace, who interviewed families affected by the Thalidomide scandal in the 1960s, added: “It has had its impact on my and my life has got a bit too close to the subjects I covered and the campaigns we have fought with SANE. But I don’t regret that.”

She said appearing on Desert Island Discs was daunting, but overall a “great experience”.

Her chosen item was a wardrobe full of glamorous dresses, earrings and heels for every evening and a secret stash of champagne, but this was rejected by Ms Young. Instead, she was forced to opt for a wooden cocktail-making cabinet.

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Among her music choices was Sunrise, a track by her son Sacha Skarbek, who composed Miley Cyrus pop hit Wrecking Ball.

Listen to Ms Wallace’s interview at bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06ltb4g.

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