Karen Cannard: How to compete with bedding plants?

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For a shy old bird (yes, I hide it rather well, I know), I’ve overcome some challenges in life, gradually building up my layers of confidence for conferences, radio, the odd TV stint and even delivering a eulogy at my own mother’s funeral.

So with all that under my belt, you’d think my latest ‘adventure’ would have seemed a doddle – an invitation from Asda’s Community Life Champion, Michelle Frost, to promote the BBC Radio Suffolk Rubbish Diet in the Bury St Edmunds store.
Except it felt far more nerve-wracking than the stuff I’d done before.
But off I went, like the new kid on the block, balancing my leaflets and a very large BBC Radio Suffolk board – ready to engage the attention of busy passers-by. 
You know, there’s a certain skill in attracting an audience from a sea of strangers who are, at best, distracted by bedding plants or are walking hurriedly, avoiding all eye-contact. I was beginning to regret not having brought my hula-hoop – an instant ice-breaker. But then again, I would have looked like an eccentric reject from Britain’s Got Talent!
So thank goodness for the lovely Michelle who, as it turns out, is a natural at chatting up customers. No sooner had thoughts of circus tricks been added to my pile of bad ideas, Michelle was attracting shoppers who’d read about the challenge in the Bury Free Press or are following it on Radio Suffolk. 
Sadly, my time was up all too quickly and I had to leave, but not before the store’s manager, Stephen Smith, volunteered for the eight week challenge to slim his own bin.
So, would I do it again? Oh yes. It’s a wonderful idea for promoting community projects and Michelle is a great support.
And for my next challenge? Maybe Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park?
Hmm, not on your Nellie!
Well, certainly not without that hula-hoop!
-- Almost 160 households are now slimming their bins across Suffolk. To join them, register online at www.therubbishdiet.org.uk or call BBC Radio Suffolk for an information pack 01473 212121