Nothing but the Ruth
In a revealing interview, Ruth Langsford tells of life with Eamonn Holmes and talks about how the Ulster TV star proposed to her by text message during a day at the races.
That his marriage proposal came out of the blue after 12 years together is typical of Eamonn Holmes’ impulsive, romantic nature, according to fiancée Ruth Langsford. Stunning Ruth (49) is looking forward to choosing a traditional wedding dress for when she and Eamonn finally tie the knot next year.
And while they are hoping to do the deed next spring, no date has been set yet, which is also characteristic of the busy TV presenters.
“I’m just getting used to being engaged at the moment,” says Ruth.
“We must be the oldest engaged couple in the UK, it feels quite strange saying ‘my fiancé’ at 49.
“We’ve kind of decided on next spring but it’s typical of us we haven’t got round to setting a date, although I know we need to do that pretty soon as places do get booked up.”
While she was more than content to continue life as a single woman with Eamonn by her side, Ruth is thrilled by his proposal, as is the couple’s seven-year-old son, Jack, as well as Eamonn’s children by his first marriage, Declan (19), Rebecca (17) and Niall (15).
The very romantic proposal, delivered via text message from his mobile, did come as a complete shock to Ruth as she recalls.
“We were at Cheltenham races with friends in a private box. It’s not something we would do very often and so it was a lovely day out and we were having a great time.
“Eamonn says he was looking at me across the room and had one of ‘those moments’. He said I was laughing and having so much fun and looking so lovely that he thought to himself, ‘Why I am not married to this woman?’.
“He went off and composed a love letter and texted it to me. That in itself shocked me because Eamonn never texts more than three words and this was three or four pages long.
“My bag had been lying under a table and I hadn’t heard my phone beep so it wasn’t until we were in the car on the way home that I saw it.
“We had a driver and we were both sitting in the back of the car and Eamonn said he heard my phone.
“I said I didn’t hear it and he was so desperate for me to read the text, he kept insisting he had heard my phone.
“I called up the text and there was this beautiful love letter from him. It was just gorgeous and so romantic and at the end he said, ‘Would you please marry me?’. My eyes went all watery and so did Eamonn’s.
“I said ‘yes please’ and because we were both very aware of the driver in front, we just held hands on the way home and said nothing. It was a very special.”
The impulse and romance behind the proposal was classic Eamonn as Ruth explains: “He is very romantic. He stops me in my tracks with the things he says. There is not a day goes by that he doesn’t tell me he loves me, even if we’ve had a row.
“It was so typical of him to surprise me like that, he surprises me all the time.”
Because they have been together so long and have their son Jack, Ruth and Eamonn have got used to people mistaking them as a married couple over the years.
But until Eamonn’s proposal, Ruth said she had never given marriage much thought.
“I have never felt unhappy that we weren’t married and I never hankered for it but now that Eamonn has proposed I am really thrilled.
“It’s strange, and I can’t explain exactly why, but I do feel quite different now that we are engaged.
“I feel quite giddy about it. I was in Waitrose recently and these women asked if they could see my engagement ring and there I was, standing with my hand out while they admired it, and I felt like a 16-year-old.”
Because his proposal was unplanned, Eamonn had no ring to present to Ruth, something which she says was a great relief to her.
“My birthday was the following week on St Patrick’s Day and, as a present, Eamonn had already booked for us to stay in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London.
“It was like a celebration for us and we decided we would have a look round some jewellers in Knightsbridge while we were there.
“By a strange coincidence, a couple of years earlier at a party in Belfast I was speaking to a girl who told me she worked in a jewellers in London called Boodles and said if I was ever in Knightsbridge I should call in.
“I had forgotten all about it until we came out of the hotel and directly across the road was Boodles Jewellers. It was really odd and because of the Irish connection I thought maybe it was meant to be.”
Because they had yet to break the news to their families, the couple did not tell the shop assistant in the jewellers that it was an engagement ring they were buying.
Ruth says: “We didn’t use the word engagement ring, but by the time we had picked the ring the shop assistant had guessed and congratulated us, but she was very discreet and did not let our secret out.
“I am so glad we choose the ring together because if Eamonn had chosen it on his own and I didn’t like it, I would never have had the heart to say it to him.
“Even if it had been the ugliest ring ever, I would still have worn it and not hurt his feelings by telling him.”
Fun-loving Eamonn also impressed his bride-to-be with his old-fashioned — and somewhat amusing — approach to breaking the news of their engagement.
Ruth says: “My dad Dennis has Alzheimer’s and so Eamonn went to see my mum to formally ask permission for my hand in marriage.
“He is always teasing and mum’s never quite sure if he is serious or joking. When he went to see her he put on this serious face and told her he had a big problem with me.
“He said to her, ‘You know how much we argue’ and just when she was getting worried, added ‘I can’t live without your daughter’. He’s a terrible tease. Mum was delighted and so were Eamonn’s mum and kids, everyone has been very pleased for us.”
With family and friends divided between Belfast and England, Eamonn and Ruth have yet to decide where their wedding will be.
But whatever the venue, Ruth insists that despite their TV fame, the wedding will not be a lavish, celebrity affair.
“We don’t have hundreds of celebrity friends — it won’t be that type of wedding.
“Eamonn has a big family and we would like as many of our family and friends as possible to be there so it will be a big celebration, surrounded by people we love.
“I do want a traditional wedding dress but apart from that we have no plans yet.”
Ruth and Eamonn have become TV’s latest popular double act since starting to present This Morning on Fridays last autumn.
Working alongside her husband-to-be on the show is, says Ruth, her dream job.
“It’s been going really well for us on a Friday,” she says.
“I think people are intrigued when a real life couple are presenting a show. We love doing it and it is great job.
“I really respect Eamonn as a broadcaster and journalist and I have learned a lot from him.
“We have great fun and being a couple, we have a real insight into each others thinking so I know what Eamonn’s likes and dislikes are and vice versa.
“We totally trust each other and have been a great support to each other.
“The downside is that we do row sometimes and you do take it home to a certain extent, but that’s real life.”
Ruth says she is flattered that she is among the few stars tipped to take over from Fern Britton as This Morning’s full-time presenter.
She says: “It is very sad for This Morning that Fern is going. She has had a fantastic 10 years with the show.
“That’s a long time to do a show like that, which takes up a big part of your life, especially when you have four children.
“Fern is such a lovely lady and I wish her well.
“ITV have made no decisions on who will take over from her. There have been lots of names mentioned and I am very pleased that mine is in there.
“I would certainly consider it, I would be mad not to and I would be very flattered to be asked.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be working on the show on as it is my dream job and I think Eamonn and I have settled very well and become part of This Morning’s team.”
Outside of work and her home life, Ruth is a well-known ambassador of the Alzheimer’s Society.
She has talked publicly about the impact on her own life of her dad, Dennis, contracting the disease and has also raised a lot of money for research over the years.
This Monday she will join dozens of other runners for the BUPA 10K Fun Run in London in aid of the Society.
“I’m feeling a bit guilty as I haven’t done enough training but I intend to get round, even if I have to walk a lot of it,” says Ruth.
“The idea is to raise as much money as I can for the Society and I have a donations page on my website and friends and family have sponsored me.
“A lot of the Society’s money goes to research which is so vital and I would hope that one day they will find a cure.
“I think it is very important that people realise that it is not just old people who get Alzheimer’s and that more and more people are getting it earlier in life.
“The more I talk about my dad and make people aware, the more chance there will be of early diagnosis which is so very important and I wish in our case, with my father, we had spotted it earlier.
“Dad is 82 now and took it when he was in his late 60s, which is not that old. He was a very bright, intelligent man and we had concerns for a year before he was diagnosed.
“It is devastating and my mum got a lot of support from the Society, which really helped her.
“The way I look at it, my dad is not in pain and not dying of some terrible disease and so I feel blessed that I can go and see him and talk to him and just hope that he understands some of it. “
Ruth and Eamonn like to keep son Jack out of the public eye.
Ruth describes him as “very like Eamonn when he was young”.
She says: “ Eamonn thinks it’s really odd that Jack speaks with an English accent and so has been teaching him Belfast-speak, it’s really funny.
“Jack is at a lovely age and is doing really well at school.
“He loves his older brothers and sister. They are really good with him and I think he hero worships them a bit because they are so much older than him.”
Although they live in Surrey, Eamonn and Ruth also have a home in Belfast which they visit frequently.
Ruth adds: “Unlike London, people in Belfast are so friendly and everyone says hello.
“There is great warmth about the people and I just love visiting the city as often as I can.”
If you would like to sponsor Ruth or make a donation to the Alzheimer's Society log onto www.ruthlangsford.tv