UTV’s Golden Girl Claire McCollum has quit as sports presenter with the local station. Claire (34), who is currently on maternity leave after giving birth to her second child Rosa in December, is the latest in a number of well-known personalities to leave the company under a voluntary redundancy scheme.
Last night the award-winning journalist revealed that it was a tough decision to quit after eight years but said she was excited about her plans for a new career as a freelance broadcast journalist.
“I have had a great time at UTV and the decision to go was a very difficult one to make, but now that I have made it, I am looking forward to a fresh start,” she told Sunday Life.
Claire, who is also mum to two-year-old Samuel, aims to enjoy her young family for another couple of months before embarking on her new freelance career.
She said: “Life is good at the minute and I am enjoying getting to know Rosa and spending time at home with her and Samuel.
“I plan to take my six months maternity leave and hopefully then will be in a position to start work again.
“I have nothing concrete lined up yet but I want to stay in broadcasting and in sport, which I love. “
Claire, who began her career with Macmillan Media in 1997, went on to work as a researcher with CNN and a newsreader on Downtown Radio before joining UTV in 2000.
As well as presenting and reporting for UTV Sport, she has also presented UTV News bulletins and Sport on Sunday for which she picked up the Best Newcomer Award at Northern Ireland’s annual IPR Media Awards.
During her time at UTV, Claire has interviewed some of the biggest names in sport including David Beckham, George Best and Robert Dunlop.
Recalling some of the highlights of her career with UTV, she said: “I was very privileged to meet so many big names, especially George Best. It means a lot to me to remember the great times I have had with UTV.
“My only regret is that I never met Joey Dunlop although I did interview Robert at the NW 200 which was always a real highlight on my calendar.
“The bike guys are just great and Robert was a real professional, always ready to give you a quote, whether he had won or not.
“David Beckham was another true professional. He was very, very pleasant, a very nice lad. I first interviewed him at Old Trafford when England beat Northern Ireland 4-0.
“I then got to interview him again when they came to Windsor Park in 2005 and it was a very different story.
“He was the only England player to come out and meet the media and he went along the whole line talking to everyone. He was immaculate, groomed within an inch of his life and had such beautiful skin.”
Claire now hopes that by the summer she will be back on our TV screens reporting on all the top sporting events. Who with though is not yet certain.
She added: “I don’t see it as the end but as a new beginning and I am very happy about it.”
Claire’s the latest UTV star to announce she’s leaving the station.
Veteran newsman Ivan Little recently revealed he’s leaving UTV after 29 years to concentrate on his other career as an actor.
Other well known faces saying goodbye to the station include senior broadcasters Jeannie Johnston and Ferghal McKinney.