Kirsty Gallacher on moving to Berkshire, Strictly and her favourite local haunts
PUBLISHED: 06:40 11 December 2019
The last few years have been times of change for TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher, including a move back to Berkshire, so what she has got planned for 2020?
Tell us about your connection to the Royal county...
We (me and my sons, Oscar, 12, and Jude, nine) have recently moved to Berkshire and we're so excited to be here. I grew up in Sunningdale - we moved down from Scotland when Dad got the professional job at Wentworth Golf Club. My sister and I loved going to school at St George's in Ascot. I actually went back there recently for the opening ceremony of their new swimming pool, which made me feel nostalgic.
What are your favourite things to do in Berkshire?
There's so many things! Windsor Great Park is a favourite place of ours, as is Savill Garden. I also love Windsor - the history, the shops, the rugby. I'm a huge animal lover, so we also have a good relationship with Windsor's Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. It's where we got our British bulldog, Betsy. I had recently lost my previous dog and I'd also got divorced [from rugby star Paul Sampson]. I was also taking part in the 2015 series of Strictly Come Dancing, with Brendan Cole as my dance partner, and we went to Battersea Dogs Home to do some filming, as we were dancing to the song from Lady and the Tramp. That weekend, I went out of Strictly, but my consolation prize was Betsy - I'd fallen in love with her when I'd visited the Home.
I know it's not in Berkshire, but we also still love going to Wentworth Golf Club at Virginia Water. We're members there and we love the sport, the gym and the spa.
What do you think of the contestants in Strictly this year?
They're all brilliant. I think Alex Scott could do well. She has been a guest of mine on Sky Sports in the past, and now we have the same agent. I wish I had done Strictly at a different time of my life. It would have been great at a later stage. As it was, I was in the midst of working unsociable hours at Sky Sports News and looking after the kids. It was wonderful at times, yet it was also quite stressful, but when you're asked to do it, you can't let the opportunity pass you by. Brendan was amazing, especially when I was nervous. I loved doing the lifts and wearing the glittery outfits.
What are you up to at the moment?
I left Sky Sports in May 2018 to go freelance. Things had changed at Sky, and it was time for a change and to make the break after many wonderful years there. I don't like sitting still, I like to move forward, to be busy and to learn new things all the time. Every year, I'm involved with Soccer Aid for ITV, which I present with Dermot O'Leary. Last year, we raised more money than ever - around £8 million. It's a big commitment but I love it.
I've also been presenting the Hilton European Tour: Life on Tour podcasts, hosting interviews with top golfers such as Paul Casey. His was a cathartic, deep interview. I also interviewed Andrew Johnston, who admitted to me he struggles with depression. Since then, a few other top golfers have come forward and opened up about their mental health issues. I see this as more than just a job, I want to make a difference.
I often host the Virgin Radio Breakfast Show with Chris Evans. It's great fun. Co-hosting with your mate is like going into work to have a chat. I am always looking into new shows, but I can't say too much about that right now. It's really lovely to be able to pick and choose what I want to do; they're all passion projects. Being freelance is liberating.
How do you juggle work and motherhood?
My parents are amazing. I lean on them a lot, but they love it. They'd move mountains to be with the boys. I don't have a nanny, I look after the children and share them 50/50 with their dad. I like to do the school run and I have a new electric car, which I'm excited about.
Any reflections on this year, and goals for 2020?
I ran the London Marathon in April this year with Chris Evans, but I got an injury that prevented me from doing my best time. I ran it in 5 hours and 15 minutes. Fitness is a huge part of my life. I train with someone in Richmond, but if I'm honest, I'm more of a short burst girl - I prefer speed to stamina.
I would like to do another challenge next year - perhaps a triathlon. But first, I'm looking forward to celebrating Christmas in my new home. The last few years have been years of change - post-divorce, post-Sky. This year has been different, and next year I'd like everything to be more settled. Oscar will be going to senior school and I'd like to focus on some exciting work projects.