Belfast Telegraph

Jasmine Harman: 'My children are everything to me ... we tried for years before turning to fertility treatment, it was such a relief when it worked'

 

For A Place in the Sun presenter Jasmine Harman, confronting her mother's extreme habit wasn't easy. She tells Gabrielle Fagan why now, six years on, she's closer to her than ever before.

Despite having no TV experience, glamorous Jasmine Harman beat hundreds of applicants to a job presenting Channel 4's A Place In The Sun in 2004. Since then, she's travelled the world, helping Brits to relocate abroad or buy holiday homes in exotic locations.

In 2011, she made headlines after she allowed the spotlight to shine on her own life when she presented BBC documentary My Hoarder Mum And Me.

The deeply personal programme movingly revealed the damaging effect her mother's hoarding disorder had on family life while she was growing up.

Now 42, Jasmine has two children, Joy (4) and Albion (2), and is married to cameraman Jon Boast. Here, the Londoner reveals how she came to terms with her mother's illness, her struggle to have children and why going vegan has made her feel better than ever.

Q. How do you look after your health and wellbeing?

A. "I used to be a fitness instructor when I was younger, but now I'm not particularly fit, because I prioritise being with the kids over going to the gym.

"Luckily, my dietary choice of not eating animal products has definitely made a difference to the amount of energy I have. Although I've been vegetarian since childhood, I became vegan four years ago and since then, I've felt fabulous.

"My skin, hair and nails - all those telltale signs of ageing - aren't a problem for me, because I think our bodies are more able to process and gain nutrients from plant-based food. Actually, my biggest problem over the last few years with two small children has been lack of sleep.

"I like to think I'm a positive, genuine person. You can't have any airs and graces when you come from the East End of London and quite a deprived background."

Q. You confronted your mother's problems with hoarding in a BBC documentary. How is your relationship with her now?

A. "Making the programme My Hoarder Mum And Me helped to change the public's perception of me. Until then, I think I was seen as this TV presenter who had a glamorous life, jetting to beautiful places and glamorous homes, but who didn't really have any depth.

"Since that documentary, people interact with me differently, because they realise I've had my own challenges - including my struggle to have children.

"Now I'm closer to my mum than I've ever been before. Becoming a mum myself, as well as our open, frank discussions about the hoarding problem, has helped us understand and respect each other more. When I'm working, mum travels with me and looks after the children who totally adore her.

"I had a lot of resentment, embarrassment and impatience about her problem when I was young, but now I'm very proud of her."

Q. You've presented A Place In The Sun for 13 years. What does the series mean to you?

A. "It's part of my identity. It's given me the opportunity to change other people's lives and make their dreams come true - it's so rewarding.

"When I started on the show in 2004, people were looking for holiday homes as an investment, but after the financial crash in 2007, the demand waned and people were coming to us to re-locate.

"These strange times - with uncertainty over Brexit - are proving to be a catalyst for people to think: 'Who knows what might happen in the next couple of years? Let's just go for a second home while we can'.

"Although they have smaller budgets now, they see buying a holiday home as a way to boost their enjoyment and to have something to hand on to their families - rather than purely as a financial asset.

"I think viewers are always interested in that - even if it's just for escapism and something to fantasise about."

Q. You've previously spoken about your struggle to conceive and your IVF journey. How does it feel to finally be a mum?

A. "My children are everything to me and they're my top priority. We tried for years before turning to fertility treatment. It was such a relief when it worked.

"I always had an inner belief that one day, it would happen, and although I have a residual sadness that we couldn't have more children, I know how lucky we are to have Joy and Albion - who are funny, happy and a delight."

Q. How do you cope with missing your husband when you're travelling for work?

A. "It's the most difficult part of the job as some months we rarely see each other for more than a couple of days at a time. Jon travels as much as I do.

"Fortunately, as we met when we were both working on A Place In The Sun, we both understand the pressures. For Jon, not seeing the kids for extended periods because they always travel with me is particularly hard.

"So often I think, 'I wish you were here because you're missing out', or the children are missing out, or just that we're missing family time together.

"Although we don't get enough time together as a couple, when we do, we make the most of it. He's very romantic and loves organising surprises for me."

Jasmine Harman presents A Place In The Sun: Winter Sun, weekdays, Channel 4, 4pm

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