Kate Humble - “I owe a lot to Berkshire”
PUBLISHED: 00:00 18 February 2020
Credit: WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
TV’s ever-popular wldlife and countryside presenter Kate Humble is never happier than when she is outdoors and working, and she believes that it all began when she lived in a rural area of Berkshire
"I was less than a year old when we moved from Wimbledon, where I was born, to what was basically a farmhouse not far from Bray. We were next to a working farm and so I grew up with all the sights and smells of the countryside and I loved every minute of it," Kate says.
"I think it helped me become something of a tomboy. I loved the farm next door and I enjoyed being in wellies all the time. I had my own little wheelbarrow and would walk miles with it. The people next door were great and by the time I was five I was riding ponies on their land. I just didn't enjoy being inside, no matter what the weather. I loved gardening and used to get very excited when the first shoots appeared. It wasn't flowers particularly, I loved growing carrots and that kind of thing.
"When I was very little I remember getting excited by racing snails too. Of course, I was always getting grazes, cuts and bruises. That happens when you spend time climbing trees and running in and out of ditches or nettle patches. My mother was kept busy with the sticking plasters."
Kate did go to school but admits that she did not enjoy it very much. "I went to The Abbey School in Reading. There was nothing wrong with the school, it was me. I didn't want to spend my days in a classroom and my restlessness did not make for a star pupil. I did well at Latin though and got to A level," she says. "I didn't really know what I wanted to do when I left school, which is why I decided to forget about going to Uni. Instead, I went to Africa and spent a year there doing all kinds of jobs from waitressing to truck driving and even working on a crocodile farm.
"I still didn't have any particular plans when I came back. I lived in London for a while and became a 'gofer' with a TV production company. I met Ludo Graham, who was a producer and director. We found that we were two of a kind and got married in 1992."
Kate and Ludo now have their own working farm in Wales. And, of course, Kate is as busy as ever with her book writing, personal appearances and television presenting.
"I have had so many privileges through television," she said. "I have worked with elephants and whales, I have been to the Antarctic and places like YellowStone Park. I have been behind the scenes at Longleat and had many other great experiences. I don't know if any of that would have happened if I had been more of a conformist.
"I am very happy now but I was also very happy growing up near Bray. I think my parents worried about me a bit because I was such an outdoor type and very much my own person. My dad was like that - a very hard-working man with strong principles and a certain stubborness that I am told I inherited. Mum was great and always there to pick up the pieces.
"Our farm is wonderful. I dreamed of having my own farm when I was growing up in Berkshire and now we have one. First of all we had a farmhouse with four acress in the Wye Valley and then in 2010 we heard that a council-owned 117-acre farm just outside Monmouth was going to be sold and broken up into lots. We thought it would be a shame that the farm, which had been run by local farmers for four generations, could be lost and we persuaded the council to let us take it on and try to make it successful as a farm, but also as somewhere people could visit to either have a day's farming experience or to come and learn how to do it with a view to starting their own small farm. We got permission and that's what we do.
"If we had not moved to Berkshire, I am not sure the rest would have followed so I owe the county a lot." Although Kate lives some distance from Berkshire now, she still likes to return often to what she believes to be her roots.
"I do come back and visit now and then," she said. "Travelling to London often means passing through the county but if there is a chance I still like to see some of the places where I grew up. The farmlands where I used to wander are still there and Bray still has many of the places I used to go to. The Abbey School is still going strong and celebrated its 130th anniversary a couple of years ago. I have nice memories of it even though I wasn't a good student.
"I have very happy memories of growing up in the county and it all comes back to mind so readily. It still feels like home. Dare I say it? Yes, it makes me very humble."