Natalie Pinkham and Dawn O’Porter on Flackstock, the festival celebrating Caroline Flack’s life

Virgin Radio

21 Jul 2022, 11:05

Natalie Pinkham, Chris Evans and Dawn O’Porter at Virgin Radio

Trigger warning: Suicide 

Author Dawn O’Porter and TV presenter Natalie Pinkham joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about Flackstock, the festival celebrating the life of their friend Caroline Flack.

Caroline Flack was a TV presenter who presented shows such as Love Island, The X Factor and TMi. She took her own life in February 2020, aged 40.

Natalie and Caroline originally met whilst working on European Poker Tour in 2005, while Dawn and Caroline met on the set of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! in 2009. Dawn said: “Caroline was, hands down, the funniest person I’ve ever met in my life.”

Flackstock is a one-day festival for the whole family, which takes place Monday 25th July, from 4pm to 10:30pm at Englefield House in Berkshire. Natalie explained: “We wanted to do something to celebrate Caroline Flack’s life. We felt as if we hadn’t really had the chance to give her a proper send-off because of Covid. And, actually, it’s pretty difficult to grieve alone, you kind of need to be together with your friends. We weren’t able to do that, as was the case for so many people through Covid, and so we thought a great way of doing just that would be to do the thing that Caroline loved most, which was to dance, to sing, and to laugh, So we’re bringing together, dance, comedy and music, at Flackstock on Monday.” 

Sky Sports F1 presenter Natalie continued: “A lot of people who didn’t know her, when we talk about how much she laughed and that she loved life, can’t therefore understand why she ended up taking her own life, and I think that’s something that will probably confuse and pain us for the rest of our days.”

Best-selling novelist Dawn added: “I found myself, after it happened, becoming quite defensive of her happiness. Because, it’s very important for people to understand that people can be those two extremes all at the same time, and I found myself really, really worried that people wouldn’t believe her happiness; that they would think that was some sort of facade that she was playing out to the public.

“I just know, because I had so much intimate time within her life, that her happiness was one of the realest things I’ve ever experienced. But then, obviously there were times when that wasn’t the case for her. But I think what we all have to remember, as we launch into a world where mental health is a bigger conversation, is to understand that we have to take both sides of someone extremely seriously, and if someone is showing signs of what Caroline was showing signs of, that needs to be really taken care of.” 

Live music performances at Flackstock come from Natalie Imbruglia, Louise Redknapp, Fleur East, Pixie Lott, Tom Grennan, Sigma, The Overtones, Lucie Jones, and Tribes. There will also be celebrity appearances from Ashley Roberts, Joel Dommett, Olly Murs, Paddy McGuiness, Paul Danan, June Sarpong, Keith Lemon and Dermot O’Leary. 

Flackstock will raise awareness of mental health issues, and money raised from the festival will be split equally between the charities Choose Love, Mind, Samaritans and the Charlie Waller Trust, all of which held a special place in Caroline’s heart. Dawn said: “Choose Love was set up by a few of us to raise money for displaced people around the world, and Caroline was a massive supporter of this, and what we realised the other day, I’ve got a photograph of the day that we came up with the idea to start Choose Love, and Caroline was with us at the table, and she turned up to everything that we ever did, and couldn’t have supported more."

Natalie added: “Obviously there is a massive onus on mental health at the festival. We’ve got a mental health safe space. We recognise that a lot of people will come and this will be a bit of a trigger for them, because they will be talking about Caroline for the first time in a couple of years as well, so we’re peppering the crowd with supporters to that effect.”

She continued: “We’re supporting Mind and The Samaritans. We want to be proactive and reactive in terms of mental health, and we’ve got the Charlie Waller Trust, and Charlie’s mother Rachel Waller - Charlie sadly took his own life - his mother is best friends with Zoe and Richard Benyon, who have so kindly given us Englefield House for the day, which is their beautiful home, where they film The Crown, by the way. That’s how gorgeous it is.”

Dawn added: “Caroline was a rock star through and through, but she was really loyal, and this feels like us remaining loyal to her legacy, not forgetting her, making sure that no-one forgets her.”

Flackstock Festival takes place on Monday 25th July at Englefield House, Berkshire. Tickets are available at

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or  catch up on-demand here.