Saffron from Republica looks incredible in new key worker career 25 years on

To fans of 1990s Britpop Saffron is the unmistakable red-haired singer in Republica.

But these days, she juggles performing on stage with a new career entirely.

At 53, though, she still looks incredible, sporting her trademark two-tone red bob.

Saffron, whose real name is Samantha Sprackling, formed Republica in 1994, but the group's fame peaked between 1996 and 1999, with hits Ready to Go and Drop Dead Gorgeous.

Both songs were hits on both sides of the Atlantic and are still used in TV, films and adverts to this day.

Now, Saffron balances her music career with gruelling 12-hour shifts as a mental health and social care officer.

As a frontline keyworker she cares for patients diagnosed with anything from severe epileptic seizures, schizophrenia, autism, adults with learning difficulties and many other challenging behaviours.

Speaking after just one her many 12 hour shifts in February, she spoke to the Mirror's Bill Borrows, telling him: "I'm just absolutely shattered, but that’s nothing new.

"We all knew the healthcare system was in trouble before the pandemic but this is now a state of emergency. I was working 290 hours a month at one point.

"So many colleagues here and in the NHS, ambulance crew, A&E and intensive care have got complete burnout… people might think COVID has gone away with the government talking about ending restrictions but we are still getting high infection cases of Omicron.

"It is still very much of our life day-to-day.

"There is a mental health epidemic coming. We have all been living through this trauma, there is backlog for cancer appointments, domestic abuse is on the rise, kids have lost two crucial years of their lives, this will all be played out in the next few years and the people who should help deal with it will not be there."

Looking back on her music career she describes the time American film director Wes Cravens phoned her personally to ask if he could use Drop Dead Gorgeous in 90's horror cult classic Scream.

She also proudly recalled other examples of where her music had been used, she said: "Wes Craven phoned me personally to ask if he could use Drop Dead Gorgeous in his film, Scream.

"Ready To Go was in Captain Marvel, the Grand Theft Auto game and right now is in the Netflix series Yellowjackets and being used by NBC in America for their Winter Olympic coverage.

"They’re like stars – they go on shining for people and touching them and that’s the whole point of music.

"It makes people feel better about themselves or brings back a memory in their lives."

Despite her new career path, Republica continue to tour to this day, writing new material and are about to rerelease their second album, Speed Ballads, on vinyl.

"It doesn’t matter how busy I am, I have to find the time for my music," Saffron confessed. "It is vital for my mental health and is everything to me, it has been since I was a young girl at stage school and going to gigs in Brighton.

"I did a stadium tour of Japan and Australia with Starlight Express when I was 18 and when it came back to the West End I’d go to gay and acid house clubs with my mates after the show, some of them went on to form The Prodigy.

"I stormed into Deconstruction Records and demanded they give me a record deal." They did.

"After the [self-titled, debut] Republica album came out, the head of RCA America flew me over to New York and we signed for them up on the 45th floor of the RCA Building.

"Girl-fronted bands were big news then with No Doubt, Garbage and the Cranberries, we were on heavy rotation and at one point Ready To Go was the most listened to song in America.

"We were in Rolling Stone magazine and played the Conan O’Brien show, there was a 100 foot long billboard for the album above Tower Records in Times Square. No cameraphones back then unfortunately but we thought we’d arrived.

"We came back to Britain during Britpop, played Top of The Pops seven or eight times and were regulars on TFI Friday…"

But instead of most musician's who have enjoyed her level of success she will be waking up at 5.30am, drive to her place of work, put on her PPE and prepare to work with the most vulnerable people in society for another 12 hour shift.

It's not that she even needs a second line of work, instead she was told by carers looking after her mum that she should consider moving into the profession.

"Around ten years ago I became a full-time carer for my mum who was dying of cancer," she says.

“There was never a question about it. The staff at the hospice were very happy with the care mum was receiving and said that I should consider a career in healthcare.

"I didn’t need to do it, I chose to do it.

"My mum had worked at a school for disabled children for 20 years and I used to volunteer, so I was very comfortable in that environment and set myself a task to learn a new skill set and take the relevant examinations. I still am, the training is ongoing."

She added: "I don’t mind hard work. When we were touring America we did a 65 city date tour plus hours and hours of radio interviews everywhere we went and that is unrelenting let me tell you but the situation during this pandemic has been something else."

But before the interview was out, Saffron still had enough fire in her belly to take a swipe at Boris Johnson and his Conservative government.

She said: "It has been a complete and utter dereliction of duty and hundreds of thousands of dedicated people have left the sector.

"I might have to double check this but wasn’t one of their election pledges to ‘Save the NHS’. How’s that going for you?

"The government have just put out an advert saying, ‘Have you considered a job working in healthcare? It’s very rewarding,’ Well, how do you define rewarding? What’s is the reward? A slap in the face? Because for every clap the general public gave us, that’s what the government gave us.

“Every time I hear Boris Johnson’s name I think of him at a party with tinsel in his hair. Maybe it’s time he got 'ready to go'."

For more of the latest showbiz news from Daily Star, make sure you sign up to one of our newsletters here.

Source: Read Full Article