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Kirsty Gallacher: 'I'm hoping that life really does begin at forty'

TV star Kirsty Gallacher has enjoyed professional success but faced personal upheaval. She tells how focusing on her sons and keeping fit has helped her cope

By Gabrielle Fagan

Published 25/06/2016

TV star Kirsty Gallacher
TV star Kirsty Gallacher
TOUGH DECISION: Kirsty with ex Paul Sampson

After enduring three years of anguish and turmoil following her divorce and her father's brush with death, Kirsty Gallacher vows that it's all behind her as she approaches 40.

"I've moved on and I'm in a better place than I've been in a long time," reveals the Sky Sports presenter and single mum-of-two.

"People are starting families at 40 and getting married at 40 and going on to another relationship. That '40' thing isn't really anything to dread any more. This age is when you come into your own as a woman. You know yourself, you're stronger because of what you've experienced and wiser."

She and her ex-husband, former Wasps and England rugby player Paul Sampson (38), had been together for 10 years when they married in 2010 and have two sons, Oscar (9) and Jude, (6).

The difficult experience of watching her father, former Ryder Cup captain golfer Bernard Gallacher battle to survive a near-fatal cardiac arrest in 2013 proved life-changing for the Scottish-born presenter, and led her to make the difficult decision to end her marriage in 2014.

"My father's illness was a massive turning point for me. We were told he wouldn't live - he died three times and was brought back to life each time and was then put in an induced coma for seven days. We were so lucky that in the event it was not his time to go and he's fantastic now, but it made me very aware that life can be great one minute and horrendous the next," she says reflectively.

"It put things in perspective and made me feel I didn't want to waste my life. At that point, I seriously asked myself whether I was really happy. It was scary to make that decision to separate, of course, but I realised you have to make the most of every day and make the right choices so you and your children are happy. In other words, if you're not in a good place - get out."

She doesn't, however, underestimate the impact of the break-up and she's been resolute in trying to ensure her children come through the split unscathed.

"While divorce definitely makes you more self-sufficient and independent, it's a very sad thing, especially when there are kids involved," she says.

"It's a horrendous thing for them to go through and I've worked hard to ensure they understand what's happened between Paul and I, to keep everything normal and allow them to talk through situations.

"Thankfully, they're doing brilliantly at school, have lots of love and support and it's just their mum and dad don't live in the same house. Hopefully we'll be able to make sure they don't have any scars from this."

The presenter, who got her first TV break with a role on Sky Sports News in 1998, and has been associated with other sports shows including 90 Minutes, Soccer Extra and won Channel Four reality show, The Games in 2006, says: "My overwhelming drive in life is to be the best, most protective mum and to make sure my children are balanced. I feel very lucky to have the children I have, but eventually, yes, I'd definitely like to settle down again and have more children. We'll just have to see what happens."

It recently emerged that Gallacher, who competed in BBC's Strictly Come Dancing in 2015, dated England rugby player, Danny Cipriani, (28), for five months until they broke up in April.

"When I meet people I try to listen to my gut feelings. When I don't follow my gut instinct, I always look back and think, 'I knew that was wrong'. So I have to follow that feeling more," she says philosophically.

"Break-ups are part of life, but when you're in a job like mine, it can be difficult having it splashed everywhere for people to read about. You have to accept that sort of thing as part of the job, but I avoid reading that stuff."

She's similarly reticent about talking about becoming an aunt. Her 28-year-old sister, Laura, is expecting a baby with comedian and activist, Russell Brand. "I said I wouldn't talk about that... so I'd rather not comment."

Gallacher, who's supporting Currys PC World Ultimate Home of Football tour this summer, says increasing her fitness levels has helped her cope with her hectic lifestyle.

"I'm fitter than I've ever been because my dad's heart attack really motivated me to push myself on that front. It was only because he was so fit that he was able to kick-start himself out of his coma and survive. So I have a personal trainer and go to the gym at least three times a week," says Gallacher, who's currently training for a Half Iron Man competition.

"My days are pretty full-on, what with working and being mum to two boys who are sport mad and have loads of matches, but I know how fortunate I am to be doing what I enjoy."

On the face of it, she's fit, feisty and super-confident, but Gallacher says she can be prone to anxiety and does lack self-belief. "I can get wound up and worried about things before they've even happened. I'm curbing that and have learnt that you can't control everything. I'm trying to relax these days and let things take their course. I wish I could believe in myself more, but I'm much better than I was.

"To balance that, I'm not someone who's frightened by change and I love new experiences as they help you grow. There's no harm in making mistakes as long as you know not to repeat them."

  • Kirsty is supporting Currys PC World Ultimate Home of Football tour this summer. If you want to experience all the footy action in the latest 4K TV and Audio tech on-board the Ultimate Home of Football in Newcastle, Birmingham, Leicester and London, visit currys.co.uk/footballwin

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