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UTV presenter Rita Fitzgerald and husband John share their special family relationships

By Karen Ireland

Rita Fitzgerald is used to early starts as a television presenter at UTV. She lives in Belfast with her husband, John, an architect, and their daughter, Ellie (5).

Name: Rita Fitzgerald

Age: 45

Occupation: TV presenter at UTV Relationship to John: Wife

My job at UTV involves presenting the news and weather on Good Morning Britain and other programmes, as well as continuity.

My job is very varied and I love it. When I am not working, I am at home in Belfast with my husband, John, and our daughter, Ellie (5).

I was 40 when I had Ellie and I work part-time, so I can pick her up from school and be there for her in the afternoon.

Before I became a journalist I did a host of jobs, including teaching English as a foreign language in France, Australia and America.

That was an amazing experience and I got to travel and see some wonderful places and enjoy different cultures.

I felt my work was like interviewing people and thought perhaps I would enjoy journalism, so I enrolled on a post-grad course in Leeds in broadcast journalism when I was 34.

I was planning to stay in England and work when some freelance work came up at the BBC in Belfast. I returned home and that's when I met my husband, John.

John and I met at a mutual friend's coffee shop. When I went in one evening, he was there in full tuxedo, waiting to go to a school reunion. We hit it off straight away and there was a real spark. He was very charming and had a great sense of humour - two of the qualities I still love about him - and he is handsome.

John is a good listener - which is just as well as I love to talk.

He is an amazing architect and so passionate about his business, as well as being a great dad to Ellie.

When you meet someone, you don't know what sort of parent they will make, but he is wonderful with her and I love to see the two of them together. We have a home in Donegal and love nothing better than putting the wellies and warm coats on and going for a long walk along the beach.

Family time and being together is very precious to us."

Name: John Fitzgerald

Age: 50

Occupation: Architect

Relationship to Rita: Husband

As a career, I didn't really know what I wanted to do until we were making choices in upper sixth and, suddenly, I started asking my dad about his work as an architect.

It seemed like something I would enjoy so I applied to Queen's University, Belfast and it's the best decision I ever made, as I absolutely love what I do. I tell my daughter, Ellie, I colour in buildings for a job just like she colours in. And what a job - I get to do something which I love all day.

There is such a sense of achievement when I pass buildings, such as the Irish Linen Centre in Lisburn, and know I had a part to play in creating such a beautiful place.

I love that my work brings together history, art, writing and drawing - it still fascinates me. I remember meeting my wife Rita one night in a coffee shop on my way to a school reunion. She was cheeky and feisty and I liked that about her. In fact we talked so much, I was late for my event.

I knew pretty early on that she was the one but it took me a while to propose as I was in my mid-forties. I planned it all out, though, and took her to one of our favourite places in Donegal and got down on one knee on the beach and asked her to marry me.

We differ in that Rita is the life and soul of the party, whereas I like to stand back and observe.

We complement each other well. Rita is unstoppable and has a real passion for life.

She gets up at 4.30am most days to go and read the news and has no qualms. She could stand in front of a crowd of 1,000 people and give a speech and just take it in her stride.

For us, though, the best times are when we are all together and enjoying the outdoors."

A well-grounded presenter

  • Rita Fitzgerald is a presenter and journalist for UTV. She has presented the popular six-part archaeology series, Ulster Unearthed
  • She regularly presents UTV's flagship news programme, UTV Live at Six, and is the local breakfast news presenter for Good Morning Britain
  • Following her initial degree in Social Sciences, Rita later completed a post graduate diploma in broadcast journalism
  • Before joining UTV, she presented a mid-morning radio current affairs talk show at 7fm (now part of Q Network) and freelanced at the BBC
  • Rita hosts events across Northern Ireland as an ambassador for the Tiny Life charity

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