Gemma Hunt on exploring the meaning of life
To Britain’s children Gemma Hunt is a pirate. On the BAFTA award winning CBeebies game show Swashbuckle, children compete to win back ‘Gem’s jewels’ from three ‘naughtie pirates’. Gemma, as Gem, is a goodie! To pantomime-goers in Canterbury, Gemma was Tiger Lily in Peter Pan this last Christmas. In her local church she’s one of the team running the parent and toddler group. But to millions of people around the world, who are exploring the meaning of life, Gemma is one of the two Alpha course presenters.
Alpha helps people to exploring the Christian faith. It’s a journey Gemma has made personally as well as professionally. Her parents separated when she was four and it was her mum who first took her to church. As a 12 year old she decided she wanted to become a Christian, and sees that as a turning point which began a new chapter in her life.
Words from a stranger
In her mid-teens, at the Soul Survivor summer festival, a complete stranger told her she would be ‘salt and light in the dark place of the media’. The words ‘salt and light’ reflect those spoken by Jesus 2,000 years ago about making a difference in the world.
Gemma firmly believes that God spoke to her through those words. ‘It saddens me if people think that God, the creator of the universe, can’t speak to us. God cares about me. He used those words to give me a nudge in the right direction, like any parent giving good advice to their child.’
And those words have come true for Gemma, who has been working in TV since 2003. She was offered a contract with CBBC even before she graduated from a Media Performance Degree.
Her role as a presenter on CBBC has taken her to the Royal Albert Hall to present the ‘Blue Peter Prom’; Buckingham Palace to present live coverage from ‘The Party at the Palace’ for the Queen’s 80th Birthday; Leeds Millennium square for England’s first game in the 2006 World Cup; Ghana as part of the BBC’s ‘Africa Lives’ season; Wimbledon presenting live coverage for CBBC, as well as a host of other glamorous locations. She describes her career as ‘pick and mix … every single week is so different.’
She was in Manchester filming in October 2014 when she was first asked to consider the Alpha project.
‘Having grown up in the church and attending a couple of Alpha courses, I knew what it was, but wasn’t sure I was the right person to be involved with a new film series for the course. It seems God was on my case about it, because people kept coming to me from different areas of my life, encouraging me to get involved. So, I returned the call and went for an audition. Still feeling completely out of my comfort zone and vastly under qualified, I agreed to take part in this epic adventure and thank God I did! I get to share my story. I get to share the story of Jesus. I truly believe it is going to change lives. It has certainly changed mine.’
The Alpha course, which took 18 months to complete, took Gemma to locations all over the world as co-presenter of the video series. ‘It took over my life for a long time,’ she says.
When her own church runs an Alpha course, Gemma loves to be involved, but stays behind the scenes serving the food and clearing the tables. ‘Discussions can be fun and they can be heated, she says. ‘But it’s so incredible to explore some of the big questions in life.’
As we approach this Easter Sunday, which falls on Gemma’s birthday, she’ll be celebrating Jesus’ resurrection with her family. ‘I love Easter. There is new life all around us. It’s not as frantic as Christmas and there’s more space to focus on Jesus. It celebrates the pinnacle of our faith – the resurrection of Jesus.’
For Gemma following Jesus gives meaning to life.