Media Life

My family values

February 16, 2015

Coverage from The Guardian, 30 Jan

My Dad’s name is Brian Turner, like the television chef, and I sometimes make the mistake of calling the “real” Brian Turner instead of my dad because their numbers are next to each other on my mobile. I am sure Dad would have liked a son, but he ended up with three girls. When I was eight years old, he bought me a train set for Christmas. It took me and my sisters by surprise, but I was too polite to ask him why he had done it. He spent the whole of Christmas playing with it on his own.

My parents met on a school bus when they were teenagers. They come from Staffordshire and are both now in their 80s. My mum, Jean, was a teacher and my dad was a mining engineer. He eventually went to work for the family business of master craftsmen and cabinetmakers started by my great-great-grandfather.

Our family home was in Norton, in Stoke-on-Trent, where my parents still live. They had a specially adapted bungalow built for my sister Ruth, who had spina bifida and used a wheelchair. Sadly, she died at the age of 15. Her death had a big impact on all the family because we loved her dearly and spent our lives looking after her. We miss her a lot and think of her all the time.

My parents earned an average income. My dad worked hard and Mum had to retire from teaching to look after Ruth. She decided to teach Ruth herself at home because there weren’t the facilities available that there are now. In today’s world, Ruth could have gone to a mainstream school. There would have been ramps for her wheelchair and she would have been able to get around easily and much more safely. Back then, it was more difficult to get her around in a wheelchair because the only accessibility to most places was by lift or stairs. I became an expert in knowing every service lift in Stoke.

My maternal grandfather lived with us, but he died when I was eight. My paternal grandparents lived well into their 90s, and I used to see them regularly because they lived very close to us. We were a close-knit family.

We had a stray, Heinz 57-variety family dog. He was found wandering the streets and my dad felt sorry for him so he brought him home. We called him Pat, after the dog in the Janet and John children’s books. He was totally untrainable because he had spent too much time on the streets. He had terrible teeth and bad breath, and barked at everything, even when a plane went over the house.

I had no desire to be on television because I was hoping to work in public relations and start my own business, but I just fell into presenting, which I don’t regret for one moment. The highlight of my career was working on Blue Peter because I had the most amazing time. I also enjoyed working on GMTV, launching the national lottery, and presenting The Perfect Housewife.

I adore children but, unfortunately, was never able to have any of my own, despite undergoing an extensive course of IVF treatment.

My nephews and stepdaughters more than compensate for me not being able to have children. I am stepmother to my ex-husband’s [Grant Bovey] daughters – Lily 22, Amelia, 21, and Claudia, 18, and we all get on extremely well. My sister Wendy, who is a television presenter – best known for Pet Rescue – has two children, Jack, who is 13, and Freddie, who is 11, so I am an auntie to them and I adore them both.

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