In 2020 I continue my search for inspirational people and share them with you through my “Blu Blazer Guy Chats with” blog posts. Over the past few years due to the ever-growing power of social media, I have been closely following the work of renowned philanthropist Nick Ede. With an unstoppable spirit and unlimited amount of energy, he pours his life and soul into working with charities and is now founder of his own; Style for Stroke. His work also includes organising numerous prestigious events which have become renowned the world over and help to raise funds for several charities. In addition, he is also CEO of East of Eden London which creates brand experience campaigns for clients not only in the charity sector but also consumer, lifestyle and fashion. If that wasn’t enough, his career has also allowed him to delve into the world of TV where he has judged and presented on numerous shows. I caught up with Nick to find out about his admirable work and illustrious career.
First of all Nick, I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. You are a widely recognised philanthropist and have dedicated your life to numerous charities, with a specific emphasis on stroke charities, Can you tell me where it all started and what drove you towards this?
Thank you so much for inviting me onto your platform. From a young age, I’ve always been interested in altruism and wanted to make a difference, but I really started to want to do more when my mother sadly passed away with a stroke when I was 23. She died on the same day that Princess Diana died and so the world was a very sad place. I had no idea what a stroke was and it really angered and frustrated me that I didn’t know, so I decided to contact the stroke association and see if I could do more to help by either fundraising or volunteering. I decided to put on a night called ‘A night with Nick’ and I invited all my friends to buy tickets. At the time I had not famous contacts, So I wrote to numerous agents and asked if the clients would like to come. It was 1998 and all before Instagram and Twitter, so most communicating was done via fax or very slow modem-based emails. I remember having to fax Mark Moody who was the social editor for OK! Magazine to ask if he would feature my event and to my surprise, I received a reply saying yes. This fax really did change my life and I still have this fax to this day. On my first event, Jamie Oliver attended along with the cast of Eastenders and numerous soap starts. The next day the event was in the papers and the following week it graced the pages of OK! Magazine. This spurred on my interest both in PR, events and ultimately fundraising. I have now hosted an annual ‘A night with Nick’ for over 18 years and it has grown so big we have now attracted stars such as Luke Evans, Kelly Osbourne, Kelly Rowland and Naomi Harris who all attend and support.
As CEO of PR company East of Eden, you get to work with some of the world’s largest brands, clients and celebrities as well as continue your work in charity. What has been the highlight of your career and are there any goals, dreams or aspirations that you still wish to achieve?
I have so many highlights that I find it difficult to pinpoint a particular one. We launched Spanx in the UK, Hosted the VIP area for The V Festival and launched the cast of Geordie Shore, we have always been able to be at the right place at the right time with what we do. Part of this is down to my past and present teams, many of them have gone on to set up their own wonderful agencies and it’s great to see them doing so well. I have many aspirations to achieve greater things with the agency and we are looking to not only expand but work smarter too. I love that we have a really diverse client list who all compliment each other really well, it makes every day different and exciting, which is always a good thing.
After its success in 2018, you joined forces with Alexandra Burke to organise The Fall Ball which took place at Café de Paris in London this year. For those who don’t already know, can you describe what The Fall Ball is and how it contributes so greatly to the awareness of the charities involved?
Alex and I have been good friends for a while now and I asked if she would star in a campaign we did for BBC Children in Need, where she appeared for one night only in Les Miserables. We hit it off and stayed in touch and when her mother sadly passed away 2 years ago from a stroke, we decided to do something together to celebrate our mothers. Alexandra has the Melissa Bell Foundation that gives grants to Sylvia Young Students who are unable to afford a scholar scholarship and my foundation supports Interact Stroke and The Stroke Association. The Fall Ball is a fabulous event full of love, hope, inspiration and wonderful live music. In 2020 we will have our third ball and we are also looking at hosting one in either LA or New York.
You seem a very grounded individual, especially in the way you approach your work and how you engage with people. How important is it for you to remain authentic in a somewhat unauthentic world?
I am not phased by anything or anyone and to be honest one of the main things I remember my mother saying to me was to be true to yourself. If this all stopped tomorrow then I can honestly say I have done everything I wanted to do, apart from writing a book that is!
Working on TV and being in the spotlight seems to come very natural to you. Where does this talent come from and have you always desired to be on TV?
My mother had been a musical theatre actress and I was always in the school plays and although quite shy at times, I loved performing. I studied drama at Bretton Hall University in Leeds and I loved it so much as it really helped me with confidence and communication skills which I now use every day. When I was 30 I was deeply unhappy in my work and also unhappy that I was making more of a difference with the stroke work that I had been doing. A friend of mine worked for a TV production company and I convinced her to give me a contract to be a researcher, I left my well-paid job and started at Shine. I loved every moment of it and I learned so much from being there but in the end, I was told there was no work for me. I felt so despondent and I didn’t know what to do. The next day as I was packing up all my things, I was called to the office and asked if I would like to have a hosting role on a new day time talk show. The show was called The Russell Grant Show and I would be his sidekick ‘, Starstruck Nick’. I literally went from fetching diet cokes for people to be being on daily TV, interviewing celebrities and have my own clothing allowance. It was scary and exciting but ultimately led me to future jobs working on shows such as Taste on Sky One, Lorraine and Market Kitchen to name but a few.
You seem to have quite a busy lifestyle with numerous positions, events and activities. What is a typical day in the life of Nick Ede and how does he relax?
A typical day for me is getting up around 6:30 am and taking Beverly (our new Cavapoochon) out for a walk which I find really relaxes me. I then go to the gym before arriving at the office for 9 AM, Luckily I only live 5 minutes away. My day at the office involves planning with the team, numerous meetings and in the evening I will go to an event. If I have some filming to do then I will work around the team and make sure they know where I am or where to reach me. As well as walking the dog, cooking and going to the cinema and theatre really relaxes me. Now and again I also love visiting The Body Camp in Ibiza which is the perfect way to detox the mind, body and soul.
In 2015 you were awarded the Fashion Philanthropist Award for your ‘Famous Last Words’ fashion collaboration in aid of The Stroke Association and you also were a judge on TV reality show Project Runway. Where does your interest in fashion come from?
I have always loved fashion, design and Print. I went to Glasgow School of Art and did a foundation course there and this sparked an interest that has never left me. I really enjoy looking at the use of fabric and how garments are created and realised. We make judgements on what people are wearing and their personalities before they even speak and I find this so interesting. I am working on two fashion projects at the moment which is really making my creative juices glow. One is a new brand that I am collaborating on with a US manufacturer and the other is an experience, I cannot wait to share them in 2020.
On a more personal note, a few years back you married your lovely partner Andrew with a double ceremony in both London and L.A. As a member of the LGBT+ community, for me, marriage is something that is very important and was one thing I thought I would never be able to do. How important was it for you to get married and also can you tell us about that momentous occasion?
Getting married was such an important thing for us both to do. It cements our commitment together and being a traditionalist at heart, it meant a lot that we were and are able to be married. It should be legalised everywhere! The weddings were both amazing and both so memorable. London was in Dalston at our favourite restaurant called Jones and Sons and Los Angeles was The House of Elyx in Hollywood. I couldn’t have wanted more and I think that they both demonstrated our personalities and our love of friendship and glamour perfectly.
You are a fellow Scot and were born and bred in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Since leaving for London, is there anything that you miss about Scotland (except the weather of course)?
I love Edinburgh and any excuse to back and I am there. My brother still lives there, so I visit as much as I can. I miss the friendliness of Scottish people and their sense of humour and I miss a good fish supper the most.
You have accomplished so much in your lifetime, something tells me there is much more to see. So please do tell us, what is next for Nick Ede?
I have a lot of things I want to accomplish and fulfil and I am looking forward to some exciting things happening in 2020. I am mostly looking forward to Style for Stroke making more an impact internationally, East of Eden creating some exciting campaigns and the projects I have been silently working on coming to fruition for people to enjoy. I will sleep when I am dead, so until then there is no chance of me slowing down.
Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions Nick. You can keep up with all things Nick Ede on his instagram page.
*photography provided by Nick Ede.