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Sharon van Wyk

~Dated Phil for a decade~

Birthname: Sharon Gilbert

Birthdate: November 27, 1962

Children: Son, Luke

Marital Status: Divorced

Currently Resides: Pretoria, South Africa

Career: In the media:
-Award-winning writer & journalist
-TV Producer/Director
-Film-maker, making natural history documentaries for international television

How She Met Phil (in her own words):

"On March 14, 1980, I went to see a glam rock band named Girl at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. I stood in front of a stack of 50-watt Marshall speakers to the right-hand side of the stage and when the band burst onto the stage was confronted with an impossibly cute guitarist with long, semi-permed blond hair tumbling almost to his waist and a very tight pair of pillar-box red leather trousers, sporting a rather fetching black Gibson Flying V. It was my second gig ever. My first was to see Queen at Alexandra Palace in London a couple of months before. I was blown away, literally, by the wall of sound issuing from those speakers and the dexterity of the impossibly cute guitarist - Phil Collen.

At the end of the gig, Phil leant forward and placed his plectrum in my hand and gave me a wink and a nod towards the backstage door. The rest, as they say, is history, and that night started a wonderful relationship and even more wonderful friendship which lasted more than a decade, and indeed to this day. Phil was my first love, my mentor and one of my best friends. He is a wonderful man, full of warmth and goodness and a shining soul and has been a force for good in my life."

Brief History:

Sharon was born in Cambridge, England but at the age of 3 moved with her parents to Kenya, where she fell in love with Africa. She lived there for two years before moving back to Cambridge where she went to school and college, attending the Cambridge College of Art and Technology where she did a A levels in English, Art and Art History and a degree in English. She spent her teen years and early 20s toing and froing between Cambridge and various parts of Southern Africa where her father was based (her parents divorced when she was 11 but stayed on excellent terms). In the mid 1980s she began working for Music Maker Publications as a production editor and writer, working on top music magazines, including her own - Solid Rock - a HM/Heavy Rock magazine. When she left MMP she began freelancing, writing snippets and reviews for RAW and Kerrang! before joining the Cambridge Evening News as a mainstream reporter and sub-editor.

She returned permanently to South Africa in 1990, taking up a senior sub-editor's position at The Pretoria News, where she worked for 10 years before leaving to pursue a freelance career. In 2005 she won a Siemens Profile Award for Excellence in Journalism for freelance writing/contributions to South Africa's leading independent newspaper, the Mail & Guardian. That year she also started up Painted Earth Productions, a multi-media production company undertaking projects for print and broadcast media, most notably producing natural history documentaries for television. Her partner in Painted Earth is cameraman/director Paul Henning.

At the start of 2009 Sharon split from her husband of 18 years and they divorced in June 2010. Painted Earth's first major documentary, named Big Boy: An Elephant's Story, is currently being sold to channels in Europe and Asia and is receiving much acclaim from international broadcasters. In November 2010 Sharon won a prestigious South African National Parks Kudu Award for Environmental Journalism for her individual contribution to conservation in Southern and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Sharon is currently writing her biography entitled: "Between Rock and a Wild Place" which will catalogue her journey from the wild world of rock and roll to the wilds of Africa.

Official Links:

Sharon's Production Company

Sharon's Travel Blog

Sharon's Facebook

Sharon's Twitter