Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

‘I was a shy teen, but now I love being the weathergirl’

TV weathergirl Cecilia Daly is a familiar face on our screens but, as she tells Stephanie Bell, when she was younger she wouldn't have dared perform in front of cameras

With her trademark pixie hairstyle and flawless complexion, it is hard to believe that BBC weathergirl Cecilia Daly once suffered from such severe acne that she kept her hair long to try and hide her face.

The popular presenter, who breezes through live TV with a calm and confident air, couldn't be more comfortable in her own skin today, but she reveals it wasn't always that way.

In a candid interview about her career and her life away from the cameras, Cecilia opens up about her struggle with teenage acne, the tragic loss of her dad to heart failure, her passion for running and her two great loves - pet rescue dog Pedro and partner Simon Flanaghan.

While her job is certainly glamorous and viewers are used to seeing her look her best on TV, away from the cameras a relaxed Cecilia is more likely to be found either in her running gear or her PJs.

She and long-term partner Simon have also both recently discovered a love for camping and come rain or shine they enjoy pitching their tent along the north coast to enjoy long walks on the beach with their lively pup.

Life is good for the Belfast girl, who had never planned on a job in TV but says she couldn't imagine living without the buzz of a busy newsroom and live presenting.

Born in Belfast, where she now shares a home with Simon, she grew up in Lisburn, but still regards herself as a Belfast girl.

Maths and physics were her favourite subjects at school and after leaving Rathmore Grammar School in south Belfast she went to study both at Reading University.

Halfway through her degree she admits to getting bored and wanted to drop out, but her mum warned her she had to get a job. Spotting a vacancy for a trainee meteorologist in the newspaper, she decided to apply.

She says: "I didn't finish my degree. I think I got a bit bored and lazy and I remember ringing my mum to tell her I wanted to leave and she told me there was no way I was coming home to lie on the sofa and do nothing.

"I saw a job advertised for a trainee weather forecaster and the Met Office was close to me in Reading, so I applied and got it and was able to do my meteorology qualifications as part of it.

"Although a lot of people would think the weather is linked to geography, it has more to do with the dynamics of how the earth moves. Physics is a basic subject for the industry and as maths and physics was my thing, it fitted.

"It wasn't a career I had planned, but once I got into it I loved it and then moving into broadcasting, I am one of those lucky people who happens to do a job I love.

"When I am out around the province visiting local schools, I always tell the children it is worth putting the effort into getting a job they like. Getting excited going into work makes life a lot easier and I'm very fortunate that I love the job I do."

Initially based in the Midlands, Cecilia started to do guest slots on local radio for the BBC.

She then moved to London, where during a three year spell she presented the weather on BBC Radio Five Live, Breakfast, The Magazine and Midday with Mair.

Walking into the studio at BBC Radio Five Live was a eureka moment for her and from then on she just wanted to be part of a busy news room.

She says: "I had gone from working in this tiny room to walking into a massive studio with eight microphones, and while initially it was a bit intimidating I found it very exciting. I loved it and the whole buzz of broadcasting and working with journalists. I also found it so relaxing, like having a chat."

She returned home to Northern Ireland in 1997, securing a job with the Met Office at Aldergrove. When she became a casualty of major downsizing a few years later, the loss of her job turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

While the Met Office was cutting back, the BBC was expanding and in 2008 she started in her current role, presenting the weather for BBC Newsline.

She says: "When my job went at the Met Office I didn't know what I was going to do and thought I would probably have to go back to England to look for work.

"It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me, as I got the job in the BBC and I've never looked back. It just shows, you never know what's round the corner."

After 10 years on TV, Cecilia, who is in her mid-40s, has a very relaxed approach to preparing for her daily live broadcasts and while she doesn't stress about how she dresses, she is very aware that audiences will be scrutinising how she looks.

She has had her fair share of wardrobe malfunctions over the years and believes that women on TV are under more pressure than men when it comes to dressing for the camera. She says: "Men can get away with one or two suits and change their ties and shirts and no one notices, but women are not so lucky - but that's the life of a female on TV.

"I've learnt not to wear anything too distracting. I'm here to tell the weather, but at the same time there is no point in pretending that people don't notice what you're wearing.

"It's human nature to notice and I would do it myself.

"I have got it wrong at times. I remember one time wearing a top and a rip had developed in the seam at the shoulder and I hadn't realised. It went in the bin when I came off air.

"My wardrobe tends to be full of work clothes and outside of that I am either wearing my gym gear or my jammies."

Her confident approach to dressing for TV today is a world away from the shy trainee who was plagued by teenage acne and would have run a mile before appearing on camera.

Cecilia struggled with the skin condition into her 20s and says it has influenced her choice of hair style today.

She says: "I had really bad skin, major acne which left me with very little confidence and I hated getting my picture taken. I grew my hair long to try and cover my face.

"As a female it was very difficult, and my mother had taken me to skin clinics and got me every treatment that was going. I tried them all and eventually it went away in my mid-20s.

"I got my hair cut short after that and it seems to just get shorter and shorter over the years."

Outside of work Cecilia is a keen runner and has regularly taken part in the Belfast Telegraph Runher events. Now when she goes out for a run she is usually accompanied by her latest love, a beautiful one year old black Labrador which she and partner Simon rescued a year ago.

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