Anne Hegerty, The Governess

Anne Hegerty (61) is an English television quiz personality and one of the “chasers” on the ITV game show The Chase. She is also a chaser on the Australian version of the show on the Seven Network. Her profile in the public domain was dramatically raised by her appearance  in the 2018 ITV reality show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! In the show she finished 7th. 

It was during her appearance on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!  that she received much praise for her candour in sharing her experience of finding out at age 45 that she was autistic. 

Difficulties in childhood

In an interview with the National Autistic Society in 2017, she outlined her childhood experience with autism, describing her difficulties with understanding social cues and struggling with fitting in with the other kids. She used to mask her feelings at school but “go bonkers” and kick her mother at the end of the school day, as a means of letting out all the pent-up frustration. 

Anne understands why so few autistic people manage to hold down a full-time job (only 16%, in the UK). She shared her own experiences of working from home as a freelance academic proofreader, which suited her introverted nature, but states that her whole day could be ruined by her phone ringing or a knock at the front door. She says, “For most of my life, I just thought I was lazy or that I lacked energy. It’s just simply that if I’m stopped in the middle of something, it’s hard to get started again.”

On a positive note, a lot of why she is where she is today comes down to the strengths of autism, rather than the weaknesses. She says that her autism makes her “very thorough and meticulous” which obviously helped enormously when she was working as a proofreader. Also, she attributes her rise to fame in the quizzing world to her “sticky memory” which helps her to retain lots of information on any topic which interests her. 

So what made life difficult for Anne as a child at school has allowed her to excel in this very distinct niche. Hopefully this will encourage anyone who has an autistic child who is struggling at school right now.

Next: Chris Packham, wildlife expert