Former Children’s TV Presenter & Motivational Speaker
Inspirational and Motivational Speaker, Cerrie Burnell, was one of the early few visibly disabled presenters on television. Her story is one of fantastic positivity and perseverance.
Born without a right forearm and hand, Cerrie has never let her disability hold her back. Cerrie attained a place on the BBC Talent Fund, run by the BBC, Channel 4 and the Actors Centre, introducing directors to disabled talent. Her talent was evident, and it was not long before she was offered television parts in ‘Holby City,’ ‘EastEnders,’ ‘The Bill.’ She was also given a regular role in ‘Grange Hill.’
Soon after having her first child, Cerrie landed a presenting job on BBC pre-school channel CBeebies. With her warm and friendly disposition, she proved to be a natural. However, within a month of beginning, she began to attract some negative comments from a minority of parents regarding her disability. Refusing to hide away, Cerrie appeared on several television shows to share her story and in doing so gained widespread public support.
Cerrie was named in The Observer’s list of the top ten children’s presenters of all time, earning a favourable comparison with veteran television and radio presenter Valerie Singleton. She also featured in The Guardian’s list of the 100 most inspirational women where she received praise for ‘tackling disability head on.’
Cerrie spends much of her time working closely with charitable organisations close to her heart. She is an Ambassador for children’s charity Coram and an Ambassador for Booktrust. In addition, she is author in residence for Great Ormond Street hospital and a patron of Polka children’s theatre. Alongside this, Cerrie is a Fellow for the Foundling Museum for whom she has worked on several projects including a drama workshop for disabled children and organising and curating her photo exhibition, ‘Baby Love.’
Proving her versatility as a presenter, Cerrie joined Channel 4 for its coverage of the London Paralympic Games. Presenting from poolside, Cerrie covered all of the Paralympic swimming events. In 2021 Cerrie wrote and presented the acclaimed BBC documentary, Silenced: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain. She has also recently appeared on BBC current affairs debate show ‘Newsnight’ joining a panel of experts to discuss “positive” eugenics.
Despite learning she was severely dyslexic at school, Cerrie has gone on to write several books including Snowflakes and the Harper series, plus The Girl With the Shark’s Teeth and I am Not a Label published in 2020. “Intelligent, politically bold, and beautiful to browse […] Every bookshelf needs a copy.” — Disability Arts Online.
Outside of television Cerrie is regularly invited to host many award shows and live events including Radar’s People of the Year Awards, the AMI Awards, the National Diversity Awards. She has also hosted various storytelling events at some of the country’s leading literature festivals and the main stage at children’s festival Lollibop. Cerrie is also a popular motivational speaker and event host at corporate events and feedback includes:
“All was great and Cerrie was just lovely! Thanks so much” Lisa Werthmann, Director, Care Choices Ltd for the BAPs Awards 2023.