Showbiz manager Russ Lindsay has revealed his devastation over criticism of his new relationship following the death of his first wife Caron Keating.
Mr Lindsay lost his Ulster-born wife to cancer in April 2004 and less than a year later started seeing television presenter Sally Meen.
But the pair found themselves the subject of intense media attention, which they claimed brought them closer together.
Speaking to Hello! magazine, Mr Lindsay, who has two young sons from his marriage to Ms Keating, said: “What upset me most was the criticism of Sally and me getting together too quickly after Caron died.
“But for the last two years of Caron’s life, we’d known how our story would end.
“Very few people had known she was ill, so it was a shock to them when she died.
“But Caron and I had discussed my life when the inevitable happened and I had done a lot of personal grieving by then.”
Mr Lindsay said he would not divulge the details of that conversation, but insisted Ms Keating, who was also a television presenter, would have been happy “with the way things have moved on”.
The 49-year-old showbiz agent, who has since married Ms Meen and has two little girls with her, described his life as a “real mess” after Ms Keating’s death. He said that Ms Meen had walked into his life like a “whirlwind” and helped him to start living again.
“After we lost her (Caron), I’d drop the boys off at school then sit around at home wondering what I was going to do with my day,” he said.
“I found it impossible to motivate myself. Although I was coping, my life was a real mess.”
Mr Lindsay also said that Ms Keating was still very much part of family life and that their two boys — Charlie (16) and Gabriel (14) — were encouraged to talk about her all the time.
“There are pictures of her everywhere and not a week goes by when the boys don’t talk about her or ask a question about her,” Mr Lindsay said.
“Sally encourages that. At Charlie’s 16th birthday party, the first thing I said in my speech was there was only one person missing on this happy occasion: Caron. She’s around us all the time.”
At the time the story broke of Mr Lindsay’s relationship with Ms Meen, it was claimed that Ms Keating’s mother, Gloria Hunniford, was unhappy about him moving on so quickly.
But Ms Meen told Hello!: “She can see how happy the boys are and what a credit they are to their mother.
“Gloria and I were always going to get off to a wobbly start. It would have been the same for whoever came after Caron. But now our goal is the same: we want Russ and the boys to be happy — and they are.”
Ms Keating was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 and died seven years later, at her mother’s home in Sevenoaks, Kent.
Following her death her family set up the Caron Keating Foundation to raise funds for carers of people with cancer.
For more information log onto www.caronkeatingfoundation.org.