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Home Life Weekend

TV and radio host Gaby Roslin talks about the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign, following dreams, and why she loves a good chat

'I dye my hair and have worn fake tan for the last 20 years... as you get older you feel more confident in yourself'

By Gabrielle Fagan

Gaby Roslin's blend of bubbly, unaffected and infectious enthusiasm, seemingly boundless energy and ability to chat to anyone has made her one of the nation's most popular and enduring radio and TV presenters.

"People feel they know me because I've been a presenter on radio and TV for 32 years and in their lives for so long. They come up to me and say, 'Hello, Gaby', because they feel I'm a friend," explains Roslin, who looks a decade younger than her 54 years.

Her major breakthrough was appearing alongside Chris Evans on The Big Breakfast back in the nineties, and over the years the London-born personality has presented BBC's Children In Need and co-presented on a host of shows, including Channel 5's Shop Smart: Save Money and the BBC's Food Inspectors. More recently, she created a new panel show, Gaby's Talking Pictures, for BBC Radio 4.

"I just love talking to people and people like talking to me. I'm very open emotionally, I like connecting with people and I'm nosy," Roslin admits. "Ever since I was a child, people have always confided in me and told me their secrets, worries, fears and joys."

Now, Roslin, who has two daughters (Libbi (17), from her first marriage to musician Colin Peel, and Amelie (12), with her husband, publisher David Osman), is urging us all to talk more to strangers as part of a new mental health campaign to help reduce suicides.

"I recently approached a young woman in Regent's Park who was sitting on a bench crying. I thought if that was my daughter, I'd want someone to stop and speak. I asked her if she needed help and we sat and spoke for a while. I urged her to get some help. I hope she's okay," she says.

"The little conversations we have every day can be all that's needed to interrupt suicidal thoughts. Once you know you have the power to make a difference, you're more likely to step in and do something. That's why I've got involved in the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign. We all need to look out for one another.

"Every time I hear of someone taking their own life, it breaks my heart. No one should ever feel alone, and there is always, always somebody there to listen and help.

"Taking just a few moments out of your day to help someone you think may be in need - even by exchanging just a few words - is so important."

Here, Roslin talks about her own approach to health and wellbeing...

How do you feel about getting older?

"If anybody asks my age, I always say 42/12! I'm not ashamed of my age, 54, for goodness sake. What you see is what you get with me. I've got a few lines - I'm not an advocate of plastic surgery or those sort of things - I dye my hair blonde and have worn fake tan for the last 20 years.

"The bonus as you get older is you feel even more comfortable and confident in yourself. I love life and have always been a very positive person. People used to question how I could always look happy, and I used to end up apologising for it.

"After my mum, Jackie, died 22 years ago when I was in my 30s, I thought, 'You know what, I'm not apologising for loving life anymore'. Of course, I've been through hard times - bereavement, a divorce, losing friends to cancer - but that's made me even more aware that life's so precious and we have to make the most of it."

You look very youthful - what's your style?

"I'm set on ageing disgracefully and I don't think you should follow any rules about dressing your age. Don't let somebody else be judgemental and tell you what you should or shouldn't wear.

"I'm obsessed with clothes and fashion and love skinny jeans and heels, but I'll go all out with a frock for a red carpet event.

"Basically, the minute you stop worrying about what everyone else looks like or thinks of you, your style comes into its own.

"I do this thing on my Instagram called 'Shopping In My Wardrobe', where I encourage people to open up their wardrobe and pair something old with something new.

"My daughter, Amelie, films me cavorting around doing a stupid song and dance and can often be heard saying, 'Muuummm, please', because she finds me the most embarrassing mum on the planet. I reckon it's my duty to be an embarrassing parent!"

How do you look after your own health and wellbeing?

"I walk everywhere - about seven miles a day - which is great because it gets the blood pumping and is fantastic for your mind. It's when I get my best ideas. I go to the gym around four times a week and do Pilates.

"I'm very health-conscious about food and have studied nutrition for more than 20 years. It's really important that you put the right things in your body. I have a wheat allergy, so I don't have any gluten, and we eat organic fruit, vegetables and sustainable fish as much as possible, and no red meat because I can't bear to eat animals. I love animals too much.

"I gave up alcohol a year ago and will only drink occasionally now, when I'm on holiday. I just suddenly decided I was bored with it and didn't want any more hangovers. I also don't have caffeine. People say it must be boring, but it's not at all - I feel very happy and well."

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

"My parents told me, 'Never give up on your dreams. Don't hurt anybody in the process, but always follow your dreams'. I've given my daughters the same advice - one wants to be a teacher, the other an actress in comedy.

"I knew when I was three that I wanted to be a television presenter, and I feel very blessed to be working in my dream job. My next dream is to do a risky, naughty daily live TV show."

Gaby Roslin is supporting the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign, developed by Samaritans, British Transport Police, Network Rail and the wider rail industry, that aims to empower people to act to help prevent suicide on the railways and beyond. For more info, search 'Small Talk Saves Lives'

'I dye my hair and have worn fake tan for the last 20 years... as you get older you feel more confident in yourself'

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