| 7.7°C Belfast

Rachel Dean's Big Ask: Cool FM presenter Paulo Ross on balancing career with caring for his mum


Close

Best friends: Cool FM DJ Paulo Ross with his dog Olly

Best friends: Cool FM DJ Paulo Ross with his dog Olly

Family memories: Paulo with dad Brian, brother Darren and mum Fatima on holiday in Dubai

Family memories: Paulo with dad Brian, brother Darren and mum Fatima on holiday in Dubai

Best friends: Cool FM DJ Paulo Ross with his dog Olly

In this week's interview Rachel Dean talks to Cool FM presenter Paulo Ross (29), who lives in south Belfast.

Q Tell us about your childhood

A I had an absolutely fabulous childhood. My childhood was always on the go because we lived in several different towns across Northern Ireland.

My mum, Fatima, is Portuguese and my dad, Brian, is from Northern Ireland. I have one younger brother, Darren. There are about eight years between us.

Close

Family memories: Paulo with dad Brian, brother Darren and mum Fatima on holiday in Dubai

Family memories: Paulo with dad Brian, brother Darren and mum Fatima on holiday in Dubai

Family memories: Paulo with dad Brian, brother Darren and mum Fatima on holiday in Dubai

I went to Bridge Integrated Primary School in Banbridge and lived in Dromore for some time too.

I had a pretty adventurous upbringing. We used to spend summers caravanning in Kilbroney Forest Park in Rostrevor. I still have very fond memories of that.

We also had a caravan in Newcastle when I was eight. Perhaps that's where my love of mountains came from.

We were a typical family and there was always a sporty element. Both my parents played Gaelic football. My dad was a keen golfer and brought me up to be a Liverpool FC supporter.

I would have also spent a lot of Sundays visiting grandparents, travelling to watch Down play or being on the sidelines of a football pitch.

Q What are you most proud of?

A Achieving my dream job. Since I was no age, I've wanted to work in radio and be on Cool FM. Believe it or not, waking up at 5am isn't actually a chore for me. I'm very grateful and I remind myself every day how lucky I am to have a job that I love.

Close

Rebecca, Niall Horan, Pete and Paulo

Rebecca, Niall Horan, Pete and Paulo

Rebecca, Niall Horan, Pete and Paulo

Q The one regret you wish you could amend?

A I don't really have any regrets. I like to think all my life experiences to date, both positive and negative, have helped shape me into the person I am today. I'm a big believer that our bad experiences are what make us who we are and what make us grow and allow us to learn.

Q What about phobias? Do you have any?

A Spiders. I definitely couldn't go on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! simply because of spiders. No amount of money in the world could persuade me to go into the jungle.

Q The temptation you cannot resist?

A Chocolate. I have also developed a new-found love of white wine. I never used to like it until a holiday in France last summer. I'm not into red wine yet, but I've been told that will come in time.

Q Your number one prized possession?

A My pet dog, Olly. He's just 10 months old now and I can't imagine being without him. We have a really strong bond.

Close

Paulo Ross with his dog Olly

Paulo Ross with his dog Olly

Paulo Ross with his dog Olly

He's my companion and he goes everywhere with me. I've been taking him to puppy classes and the training is starting to pay off. Having a pet makes you appreciate the simple things in life. It's hard to feel sad with a loyal, faithful, tail-wagging friend around.

Q The book that's most impacted your life?

A John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. I haven't read a book properly from front to back since my days of studying English literature at A-level. I find it hard to make time for reading and I'm more of a documentary type of person anyway. I'd much rather take myself off for a hike, a coffee or walk the dog on the towpath to switch off.

Q If you had the power or the authority, what would you do?

A I would allocate more money to help ease pressures within the health service. Doctors and nurses do a wonderful job, but our mental health services are massively under-resourced. Self-harming and suicide have become an epidemic.

Waiting times to see a psychologist or psychiatrist are far too long. It's unacceptable. We tend to forget that mental illness is treatable and suicide can be prevented. It's not a terminal illness. Urgent action is needed.

We need to start promoting mental health and wellbeing more from an early age in our schools. I'm an ambassador for three mental health charities, Cause, Aware and Action Mental Health. It's a subject very close to my heart.

Outside of radio, I'm a carer for my mum, who suffers from a range of mental health difficulties. Having had personal experience with the system, involving multiple trips to the hospital with my mum, I know how desperately our mental health services need help.

Close

Paulo Ross on the famous Kjerag boulder which is wedged 1000m above the Norwegian mountains

Paulo Ross on the famous Kjerag boulder which is wedged 1000m above the Norwegian mountains

Paulo Ross on the famous Kjerag boulder which is wedged 1000m above the Norwegian mountains

Q What makes your blood boil every time without fail?

A I've been on the Liverpool season ticket waiting list for more than 10 years now and I'm still 10,000th on the list. It's ridiculous, but I guess that's the price you pay for supporting a big club steeped with such a great history - cue the angry Manchester United fans.

Q Who has most influenced you in life?

A Pete Snodden, an all-round great guy, mentor, leader and best mate. He's going to kill me for embarrassing him, but I've a huge amount of respect for Pete. Opening up your personality to hundreds of thousands of people on the radio every morning can be a daunting experience, but Pete inspires and encourages Rebecca (McKinney) and me to step outside of our comfort zones on the show.

Close

Pete, Paulo, Rebecca at Pride

Pete, Paulo, Rebecca at Pride

Pete, Paulo, Rebecca at Pride

He's passed on every bit of knowledge about everything he's learned in broadcasting throughout his career up until now, which has been invaluable, and he always makes time for advice and chats outside of radio.

He thrives on seeing others succeed. The three of us are best friends, really.

Q Your top three dinner party guests, dead or alive, and why?

A My first choice would have to be Steven Gerrard because he's my childhood hero and he captained Liverpool FC. I have very fond memories growing up watching Stevie G play. He's an incredibly talented footballer and role model.

Then Ed Sheeran. From busking on the streets of Galway to selling out Croke Park and becoming one of the biggest names in global music, he somehow still comes across as an incredibly down-to-earth guy.

And Mike Ross, played by actor Patrick J Adams. Suits is one of my favourite boxsets and I love Mike's character.

Q The best piece of advice you ever received?

A Be real, be yourself. Don't be afraid to be who you are.

Q The unlikely interest or hobby that you love?

A I'm always up for trying out new things whenever it comes to exercise. Along with walking the mountains, I've just joined a new Crossfit gym in Belfast. I find that working up a sweat helps keep the mind busy. I'd hoped to run the Belfast Marathon for the first time this year, but unfortunately it didn't work out due to a hiking-related toe injury I'm carrying. My flexibility is shocking, so maybe yoga is something I should give a go this year.

Q The poem that touches your heart?

A The Mountains of Mourne by Percy French, which is more of a song, really.

The Mourne Mountains are a really special place to me and we're so lucky to have an area of such outstanding beauty on our doorstep. The Mountains of Mourne was my late grandmother's favourite song too.

Close

Paulo Ross up the Mourne Mountains.

Paulo Ross up the Mourne Mountains.

Paulo Ross up the Mourne Mountains.

I've lots of memories of getting picked up by my granny and granda and going for a Sunday drive to Newcastle to visit the amusements, eat fish and chips and have an ice cream.

Q The happiest moment of your life?

A Liverpool coming from 3-0 down against AC Milan to win the Champions League in 2005. I have a feeling that will be emulated by winning the Premier League this year.

I wasn't born the last time Liverpool won the league and I'm sick and tired of being wound up by other football fans because of it.

Q And the saddest of your life?

A When my grandmother, Mary, passed away. She was an amazing woman. We lost her just before I set off to go to university in Liverpool.

It's been over 10 years now, but I still think about her most days. Grandparents spoil us, spend quality time with us and teach us important lessons. Grannies are just a more fun version of our parents.

My grandmother was someone I could always confide in. She was also a massive Hugo Duncan fan and was star-struck when we met him at a country music festival in Newcastle. If only she could see me now.

Q The one event that made a difference in your life?

A Losing my dog Oscar last year. Nothing can prepare you for the grief of a pet passing away.

I think your first dog as an adult will always hold a special place in your heart.

They're the first to greet you in the morning when you wake up and the last before you go to bed. They're there to share every high and low in your life with you.

Close

Dark haired dog is Paulo Ross's dog Oscar.

Dark haired dog is Paulo Ross's dog Oscar.

Dark haired dog is Paulo Ross's dog Oscar.

Pets are just as important and loved as family members. I think it's something that only pet owners can truly appreciate and understand.

It's taught me to focus on trying to live more in the now and to enjoy each day.

I still struggle with the death - Oscar was my mountain companion. It's taken a lot of time, more time than I thought it would, to overcome.

Q What's the ambition that keeps driving you onwards?

A Having holidays and new places to visit and look forward to. Japan and Machu Picchu are two destinations still on my bucket list.

I love travelling because, in my opinion, seeing the world teaches you things that you can't learn inside a workplace, classroom or university lecture.

I studied geography and it's always been something I've been massively interested in. Plus, holidays help recharge the batteries for 5am starts every day. Pete and Rebecca always joke about how many holidays I go on every year. To be fair, they probably have a point.

Q What's the philosophy you live by?

A Never postpone what can be done now - seize the moment instead.

You never know when your time is up, so don't take anything for granted.

Q How do you want to be remembered?

A Our job every morning is to help brighten up people's drive to work on the breakfast show and to offer a bit of a distraction to what's going on in our everyday lives.

I'd like to be remembered as someone who enjoyed life as much as they could and helped other people do the same.

As someone who loved their family and friends and who was very much a kind, nature-loving, animal-loving sports enthusiast.

Paulo co-presents the Cool FM Breakfast Show every weekday morning from 6am to 10am, alongside Pete Snodden and Rebecca McKinney

Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.

Already have an account?

Belfast Telegraph