Did you catch Gary’s game a couple of weeks ago? The 42 year old leisure centre supervisor from Newcastle gripped the nation with the story of his son, Sam, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 2. While battling The Banker, Gary opened up about his need to transform his garden so Sam could enjoy some desperately needed outside space. Thousands of you were moved by Gary’s story so we got back in touch with him to find out how his Deal or No Deal experience changed his family’s lives forever.
For the benefit of those who don’t know your story, why did you want to play Deal or No Deal?
My initial reason for applying for the show was to try and raise funds for our son Sam. We needed to get him a top of the range powered wheelchair, which costs in excess of £15,000. Sam has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 2, which is a genetic neuromuscular condition. It weakens all of his muscular system including his legs, arms, head, swallowing and breathing etc.
We started a ‘GoFundMe’ page and managed to raise £8,500 and then consequently received charity funding, enabling us to purchase the chair just days before leaving to appear on Deal or No Deal. So our next aim was to get enough money to get our back garden done. We’ve been adapting a bungalow for the last two years and the only things still to do were the garden and the roof. Deal or No Deal gave us enough money to get this work done and it has changed the way we and Sam live our lives.
It’s been a little while since you played your game. Has it all sunk in yet?
At first it was hard to believe I’d just won £12,500. On the way home you just go over and over your game. I’m sure I drove my wife to the edge with my constant review of the game. When the money enters your bank, that’s when it gets real.
From applying to playing, how did you find your Deal or No Deal experience?
When I applied, like a lot of people, you probably think, oh well I might get on and if not at least I tried. So, to receive the call to go down to audition was so exciting. The audition process was such fun from start to finish. Even spending the day chatting to people, all with the same goal of appearing on Deal or No Deal was an experience in itself. After a few phone calls, I was told I had a golden ticket to appear on the show… WOW! Travelling down to Bristol was exciting and from the moment I entered the hotel, the experience had begun. I was now in the ‘Deal or No Deal bubble’.
I was greeted with open arms from the contestants. I became a member of the Deal or No Deal family.
The first few shows are a bit nerve wracking, but once you find your feet it is such an exciting and emotional experience. I witnessed good games and bad games, all in one day. The whole experience will never be forgotten and the friends I have made will stay with me forever.
You took £12,500 from The Banker. How has the money helped to fulfil your dreams?
We wanted enough money to be able to install decking and astro turf in the back garden, which would allow Sam to come out the rear bifold doors of the bungalow straight out onto the decking, keeping everything level for his chair. Not having to worry about the cost was such an amazing feeling and we feel so grateful to have been given this chance by Deal or No Deal. It has changed our lives so much. It was such a dream to be able to get this done and to actually see what was our initial vision around two years ago become a reality was such an emotional moment for me and my family.
With £250k and £100k still on the board, was there any part of you that wanted to go on?
In a word… YES! I was so close to no dealing but the thought of losing it was too much. I went on to take the £100,000 so it shows you how easy things can go from high to low in a single round. I just couldn’t let Sam down, he was the reason I applied, to make his life better and easier. He’s my little star and inspirational little boy loved by so many people.
Your highest offer was £20,000 – do you have any regrets dealing at £12,500?
Of course there will always be a regret that I could have had higher but I could also have had lower. At the end of the day, I turned £5 into £12,500 – that’s like backing a horse with odds of 2,500 to 1.It’s a game about knowing when to get out. I never went there to be greedy; like Noel said during my game, I had a plan and boy did I stick to it. It’s a game of ifs and buts. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing and so is £12,500.
Do you have a message for The Banker?
Mr Banker, I may not have spanked you, but I have left a tiny little red mark on your cheeks and a little dent in your wallet. It was fun and emotional and it was also great to speak with you. Thank you from me, Sue, Sam and Kate.