July 1950,St Mary’s hospital Leeds, not far removed from its former workhouse status, I was born to 21 year old Sheila and 45 year old Fred who had met and fell in love traveling by train to Ayr races where mum worked on the tote and dad was a bookie. Mum was a part time model, gifted with black hair and stunning looks from her Irish background and dad was charismatic and always very very handsome right into his old age, often likened to a film star. An unlikely match they had only married a few months before I arrived but they molded my younger sister, brother and I with values and principles that have lasted.
I have a few, but rock solid, rules for bringing up children. I have tried them and tested them and when I look at my four children’s lives I believe they work. I am enjoying seeing how my own children are now developing their own parenting skills. I love Kahlil Gibran’s words “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”
Dad was surprisingly young when he passed at age 87 over 20yrs ago as his siblings and even his own dad made the Queens telegram status, we recently buried a 101 yr old aunt and one uncle is 103! Age has been unconventional in our family, grandad was a year older than my dad, I had had four children by the age my youngest daughter, Lulu, had her first baby, Mila.
I have close friends who are the same age as my daughters, I have only dated one guy older than me since I was divorced, its as if age is no barrier to us for anything.
Lulu, after 19 yrs a Cirque du Soleil performer in Las Vegas, has just returned to modeling at age 38. I am probably busier now than at any time in my life and don’t see retirement as an option. I moved house a dozen times in the first years of marriage but I have lived in my Art Deco home since 1984 and its my anchor, my constant, my stability, my sanctuary.
The happy family of husband, two daughters and two sons changed in 1992 when my 15 yr old son, Daniel, who was about to join Leeds united full time, died suddenly playing football in the garden with his dad and younger brother. My now ex husband, Terry, was a professional footballer, a club and International manager and a brilliant coach.
He has an addictive personality and finally gave in to alcohol some years ago and hasn’t worked since, we separated in 2003 and after many failed attempts to “get better” his other weakness, gambling, left him needing more money and he was persuaded by a golf club “friend” a divorce would achieve that for him. We divorced in August 2008, just before the financial world crashed and the impact on my property business and his misguided advice of what he would achieve in a divorce has left me working harder than ever to keep roofs over our heads.
Life has changed, its not what I would have envisaged however I have four of the most fantastic grandchildren (I promise you will hear the name of at least one of them in a big way in years to come) I still have a business and my social life is as good as ever, I have a large and loving and supportive family and many friends who range between very very close and good fun companions and they are male and female, gay and straight …..if I wanted to go out every night I have enough invitations to do so.
My first born, Gabby, is a successful tv presenter with a string of achievements that make me very proud and have opened up a world of lovely events to attend but none bring quite the pleasure her husband, rugby international Kenny Logan, and their twins Reuben and Lois bring. Not all events are happy ones but life is moulded by experiences and mine are many from a happy childhood, a full, happy and varied life as a WAG and living in Vancouver, being in the Bradford fire, having children whose achievements are many and celebrated, losing a son, living with an alcoholic and divorce, running businesses, being a director of a charity and learning to build a single life in my 50’s.
My youngest son, Jordan, who works in the business Flats in Leeds which I began some years ago, has recently moved to live very close to me with his fiancée and their new baby son, Phoenix. Having two grandchildren in London and one in Vegas life has just delivered a new bonus ……a grandchild three houses away from mine.
I believe I am probably just over half way through my life so it is exciting to think what’s to come.
My Garden Room
Probably my favourite room, added on to the house around the time my ex husband was leaving so very much “my” room it has two different lives. Candlelit for pre dinner drinks it’s a magical room where the tiny ceiling lights are arranged as constelations of stars and yet on a weekend morning when theres time to sit and reflect over a coffee it’s a sun and plant filled room with a view of the waterfall and the garden.
These photos are taken in the family room at my home, this has always been the main hub in my home (after the kitchen) and is where I would sit to chat with friends or relax and watch TV, this room houses hundreds of photos and books and much of my families history.
These are taken in the garden of my North Leeds Art Deco home against a back drop of my son’s goal posts draped with some of my clothes from the 60’s and 70’s including the dress I lost my virginity in and the one I wore for our engagement party and the hot pants dress that went on honeymoon with me. I am wearing my mink coat because of all the clothes I have had a long time its probably the garment I have worn the most and had the most fun in.
In my lounge
These are taken in the room my grandparents would have probably called the “front room”, the one used for special occasions and dressing up so I decided to wear something a bit glitzy and a bit 30’s style for these.
When I am building, which is my first love in business, I have to wear practical clothes. I am building a small development of luxurious apartments in North Leeds so for site meetings the uniform is a high vis coat, steel toe cap rigger boots and a hard hat ,mine is pink with a diamante trim, just so I don’t get confused with all the guys on site.
“To be caught up in a rapture; to become caught in a moment.
What is it to behold a woman, what do women see when they behold themselves?
Can we truly recognise women, and can women truly recognise themselves?
What is a sheath and what is beauty?”