To say that Carol Vorderman’s lust for life is infectious is an understatement. Having turned 60 last December, the presenter is relishing every moment of her new decade – and she’s never looked better.
She puts her incredible figure down to hiking in the hills in Pembrokeshire, where she splits her time between a second home in Bristol. “I’m actually going to go for a hike once we’ve finished chatting,” Carol tells us over the phone. “I’m addicted to it.”
We’re catching up with the former Countdown star to hear all about her hosting her 22nd Daily Mirror Pride Of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB. And this year, for the first time, she will be joined by a co-host – Dancing On Ice judge Ashley Banjo.
Carol will also be accompanied by children Cameron, 24, and Katie, 29. They have stayed out of the spotlight but Cameron made his TV debut recently when he joined his mum on This Morning to discuss his experience with special educational needs.
Here, Carol opens up about her pride in her kids and why she’s always enjoyed breaking the mould…
Hi, Carol. You must be thrilled this year’s Pride Of Britain Awards can go ahead with a proper ceremony…
It’s wonderful. It’s a double celebration as for most people it’ll be the first big event they’ve been to since the pandemic.
And you have a co-host this year!
Yes! I’m delighted that Ash is helping me out. I was in the jungle with his brother Jordan and we used to speak about Ash a lot. Then I came back from Australia and I met all the Banjo family. Ash is wonderful. Not only is he a great entertainer, he’s a deep thinker and he has this great sense of responsibility.
What’s your favourite thing about hosting the awards?
The winners and seeing how happy they are to be celebrated. They’re all so modest and say, “I can’t understand why I’ve won an award.” These incredible people make you want to be a better person. And even though everyone says how much it makes them cry, it’s a celebration too. It has been hard to hold it together over the years though.
Is there one winner’s story which really touched you this year?
No, I can’t have favourites! They all touch me. Obviously, the Oxford vaccine team are all amazing, and then there’s The Boy In The Tent, who has spent over 500 nights in a tent for a hospice.
His name is Max Woosey and his neighbour Rick, who was terminally ill with cancer, gave him a tent and told him to have an adventure. When Rick died, that’s what he started to do. Since March 2020, he’s raised £550,000 and he’s only 11. He won one of our new awards, Spirit Of Adventure.
Will your children be attending the awards?
Yes, and also my brother Anton, who I haven’t seen for two years. He was living in Holland then he went over to Thailand, as he has lung problems. But then he got caught out there due to the pandemic. I’m excited to see him.
You were recently on This Morning with Cameron talking about his special educational needs…
Yes and he took it all in his stride. He’s become a natural communicator as he’s taught himself strategies and techniques to counter his ADD, ADHD and severe dyslexia.
When he was young I protected him because society dictates that children with these special educational needs are not what children should be like. There were years of bullying but now he has his strategies and he’s super-cool. The reaction blew us away.
I’ve had thousands of messages from young adults with similar issues or parents of children, many still waiting for an assessment. It’s difficult to get the diagnosis, so we’re going to start a campaign.
Cameron recently finished his master’s in animation. You must be so proud of him...
I am. He is quite extraordinary. He never thought he’d achieve that as he was told he would never amount to anything significant. Society almost tells you that you should be a little ashamed of your children having these issues – well, I say b******s to that!
And Katie just finished her PhD…
She’s super-bright. I think she wants to work in the space industry but I wouldn’t want to put words in her mouth! It’s wonderful to see your kids flourish. I was a single parent and I was looking after them and my elderly mother with cancer, so there’s been a tough few years. But now we’re in the celebratory years!
You’re in great shape. Do you still do a lot oh hiking?
Yes, I love being out in the clean air. When you have young children you don’t do some things as the children are your priority. Now my priorities are things like fitness. I can do things without any sense of guilt. I enjoy life.
I wake up some mornings literally laughing. My motto is, “Find something that makes you happy and just do more of it.”
So you’re enjoying your 60s?
I love being this age. I can’t be doing with people who aren’t nice and I’ve never cared what people think. I have totally embraced 60. You can use it as an excuse and say, “Oh well, it’s my age!” I adore it as I’m a cheeky bugger and mischievous. Mischief is my middle name and I do what I like. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel.
I’ve never understood why people conform because society dictates it. I’ve always been a free spirit and questioned what the word “should” means. I was told you should get married at 20 because that’s what girls do. I said, “I’m not doing that,” and became an engineer.
When I was 39 in 2000, I wore a short dress to the BAFTAs and the BBC did a whole show asking, “Should a woman of 39 wear a dress above the knee?” I’ve always been all about the virtual middle finger in the air and I don’t know how to be any different.
I still get it in the neck, though! The other day I posted a picture of myself in leggings and someone said,
“A woman of 60 shouldn’t wear leggings.” But who said they shouldn’t? Someone commented they were “skin-tight” but I didn’t know they made leggings that weren’t! How outrageous!
So, do stories about you wearing leather trousers make you laugh too?
I crack up laughing. I haven’t read a comment on a news website since probably 2003. I saw an article about me the other day had a thousand comments.
I didn’t read them but I thought, “Boom!” if I can irritate that many people, that’s a result! I never read comments as most will be moronic and nasty.
And finally, is there anyone special in your life?
No, I’m strictly single – and I like it that way.
The Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB, airs on 4th November at 8pm on ITV
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