September 15, 2019

Portuguese Brexit woman: Being hit and nearly run over made me risk arrest to protest Brexit | UK News


Ana Telma Rocha became an instant social media sensation when she interrupted a Sky News reporter covering protests against the suspension of parliament to express how she felt about Brexit.

Here, she explains what compelled her to hijack an interview.

I arrived in London in 1999, to pursue my dream of becoming an actress.

I made the journey because I had been inspired by seeing Steven Berkoff on TV.

I quickly fell in love with the bright lights and the different English accents of London and the fantastic British comedy.

I got work looking after children and cleaning dishes all day to pay for night acting classes.

I totally sounded like Manuel from Fawlty Towers, but I was of course in my 20s, with loads of endless spirit and energy.

Ana Telma Rocha
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Ms Rocha says English care work bosses were the ‘kindest and most selfless people’ she has met

Then I found care work and I was changed forever. I learned how to ensure that all humans should have dignity, no matter what stage of life they were at. I was taught this by English folk, the kindest and most selfless people I ever met.

They also tested me for dyslexia after suspecting I had it. I scored really high, but they gave me tools I needed so I could flourish.

In 2004, I teamed up with several others to form an all-female theatre company, Get Over It Productions, and five years later I moved to Yorkshire were I met my English husband, with whom I have two boys.

By that point, I had stopped sounding like Manuel and soon developed a Yorkshire accent.

I’m so proud of it. I love Yorkshire. I made friends for life there too. My neighbours were incredible.

At the beginning, it was very tough. I was very different and my accent put people off. But I persisted, asking them to teach me about the Yorkshire dialect and culture and they taught me how to make meat and tatty pie.

Ana Telma Rocha
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Ana Telma Rocha looked after children and cleaned dishes all day to pay for night acting classes

I loved Bridlington, I was crazy about Whitby and became a steam train spotter. But my enthusiasm for where I was living was all about to come crashing down.

As Nigel Farage’s voice became louder, things started to change.

Before, I would have comments on the bus, but that was about it.

Then, after 23 June 2016, everything would be different; the comments became threats.

A month later someone tried to run me over on a crossing with my small son.

They stopped a few meters ahead just to yell: “Go home, you foreigner scum.”

My husband was called a traitor at work and Jo Cox had been murdered. I was terrified.

I took my family to safety, to London, and went back to work in a care company.

I never discussed politics, and tried to run from the subject as much as possible.

But it just became worse and worse. I was scared that I would be sent somewhere to work that was not safe.

One day, a guy thumped me but I didn’t even report it because I was so worried about what would happen.

I just kept going – my kids needed money. I would work here, work there, do anything to drown out the noise of people like Nigel Farage, do all I could to keep going.

Ana Telma Rocha
Image:
She was nearly run over by a man who stopped and yelled ‘go home, foreigner scum’

Until, last week, I came home from work and the news was on. Boris Johnson was going to prologue parliament and the Queen said “yes”.

My head started to spin, I started to breathe deeply. I had to say something. I left home and headed to Westminster. I needed to tell the 48% “I’m going, get up and do something. I don’t care if I’m arrested”.

I left the bus swearing. I could not stop. At one point I thought I was going to get arrested but a policeman calmed me down and talked me out of doing something that would have landed me in trouble. This English policeman was kind, and firm, and did his job in the middle of all this anger.

“Get a grip,” I said to myself. I went for a walk. I saw a Sky News reporter, and again, I was overcome with the need to speak out.

Now I am the Portuguese Brexit woman.



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