SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH LAURA HAMILTON

Presenter Laura Hamilton and her husband Alex Goward don’t do things by halves. The goodlooking, fiercely ambitious pair moved into their huge home in Purley, Surrey, just two weeks after the birth of their son Rocco, now two. A top-tobottom renovation followed, before the pair welcomed daughter Tahlia in May 2015. In the four years that we’ve been married we’ve been through two houses and had two kids, not to mention this huge renovation project,’ laughs Laura. Amazingly, the bubbly 33 year old who was runner-up in series six of Dancing On Ice has also found time to go on a post-baby diet and fitness blitz, and is now a size 8. I wanted to get down to my wedding weight, but I’m actually lighter than that now,’ the 5ft 2in star confides. But you’re not losing any more, are you?’ questions insurance broker Alex, 35, who’s clearly besotted with his wife.

While their two adorable children are taken care of by Sarah, the family nanny, during OK!’s interview, Rocco ensures his presence is felt by tearing around the living room and sweetly asking his mum to try the imaginary cake he’s baking in his toy cooker! He’s a sharp contrast to Tahlia, who contentedly naps in her crib. The couple balance Alex’s career in the City with Laura’s job presenting Channel 4 property show A Place In The Sun, where she works alongside good friend Jasmine Harman. It’s definitely busy,’ Laura says. But the children travel with me so they can keep to their routines.’ As we settle down in the family playroom for a heart to heart over mugs of tea, the couple who have been together for eight years and wed in 2012 open up to OK! about juggling the work-life balance, Laura’s two dramatic birth experiences, and why they won’t be having any more children

How did you two meet?

Alex: A mutual friend set us up in 2008. There was a bit of confusion, though! I suggested we meet in a London bar called Just St James but Laura thought I meant the tube station St James’s Park. Annoyingly, Laura had left her phone at home so I couldn’t contact her. I thought I’d been stood up!

Laura: I was standing outside the tube station for about half an hour, also thinking I’d been stood up!

Alex: Luckily she went to an Internet caf and sent me an email saying she’d give me another ten minutes, so I quickly replied explaining where I was.

What attracted you to one another?

Laura: Alex is a goodlooking guy but I was quite nervous of the fact that he’s from such a different world to me he worked in the City and I, at the time, was a Nickelodeon children’s TV presenter.

Alex: Before Laura I’d not really had many long-term relationships but we’re quite similar, both very driven and focused.

How long were you dating before you
moved in together?

Laura: I bought my first property aged 19 and have bought and sold numerous times since. Buying together was almost a bigger commitment than getting engaged.

Alex: We bought a house together in Purley after being together for three and a half years, then a few months later I asked Laura to marry me.

How did you propose, Alex?

It was my dad’s birthday so I told Laura we were going out for a family meal and asked her to wear something nice Laura: I was totally oblivious.

Alex: Laura had just found out she’d got the presenting job on A Place In The Sun, so before we left the house I gave her a huge bunch of congratulations flowers and a bottle of champagne, then I reached inside my jacket pocket where I’d stashed the ring and said: Oh, and by the way, will you marry me?’

How did you react, Laura?

I was agog, I just screamed! Alex: I said: So are you going to answer me, then?!’

Laura: After I’d said yes we went for dinner at Blakes Hotel in South Kensington. Alex had packed my overnight bag and filled the hotel room with flowers it was such an amazing surprise. I kept looking at my ring throughout dinner!

Did you have a big wedding?

Alex: We got married the following year. My parents live very close by so we had a church service at St Margaret’s in Chipstead, followed by a reception in their garden it was perfect.

Laura: We’re very fussy so when we were looking at wedding venues we just knew we could do it better ourselves. Friends from Dancing On Ice like Denise Welch came along and my good friend Michelle Heaton came, too.

Did you want a family right away?

Alex: We started trying soon after the wedding and Rocco was born a year later, after being conceived during a holiday in Venice.

Laura: I was very lucky that I was able to fall pregnant easily.

How were your pregnancies, Laura?

The pregnancies themselves were fine I didn’t even have morning sickness but it’s when it comes to giving birth that I seem to have difficulty! We planned to do hypnobirthing with Rocco but after five hours of labour I ended up having an emergency Caesarean when they discovered he was breach. I was upset to be told I couldn’t have him naturally, but the important thing was that he was fit and healthy.

How about Tahlia’s birth?

Laura: With Tahlia I’d planned a Caesarean, but a week before it was scheduled, I went into labour and woke up in the night in excruciating pain. Alex rushed me to hospital and I ended up having another emergency operation. Alex: The surgeons said Laura’s uterus was so thin that if she’d pushed it could have been fatal.

Laura: Doctors have said I can’t deliver another child naturally.

Do you want to have more children?

Laura: I don’t think so. Both Alex and I come from two-child families. We feel lucky that we’ve had both a girl and a boy and our family feels complete.

Did you want your children to be close in age?

Alex: Yes, that was really important to us. We want them to grow up together and for Rocco to take care of Tahlia when she’s a bit older. Laura: They get along brilliantly. Rocco is very much the protective big brother and we haven’t seen any hints of jealousy.

The children’s names are a quite unusual. What inspired them?

Alex: While Laura was pregnant with Rocco, we’d picked Tahlia as a girl’s name and Ethan as a boy’s name. Then we met a little boy called Rocco and thought it was so cool, so we went with that instead.

Laura: Alex is a big fan of the Rocky films, too, so it fitted perfectly! And then when Tahlia came along we already had the name for her.

Is it hard work having two children under three?

Alex: We’re lucky that they’re both good sleepers. We were very strict about instilling a good routine from the beginning and used controlled crying. We have a nanny too, Sarah, who the children adore.

Laura: Sarah helps when I have to work. She travels with me to different countries for A Place In The Sun.

Are you strict parents?

Alex: I’m stricter than Laura, although I do balance that out with fun things like taking Rocco to Little Kickers, his football club, on Saturday mornings.

Were the producers of A Place In The Sun supportive of your pregnancy with Tahlia, Laura?

Very. Jasmine and I fell pregnant around the same time but the producers said they didn’t want to lose either of us and that it was fine for our children to travel with us for the show, although they don’t come on set.

How do you manage that?

People think travelling with children is difficult but it’s such a fantastic experience for them. They’ve been to South Africa, Tuscany, Florida, Cyprus the list goes on and on.

Do you see Jasmine socially?

All the time. Our children are of very similar ages and she lives locally so we often have play dates or coffee mornings.

Is all the travelling hard on your marriage? I’m very lucky that Alex is so supportive and understands that I’ll be away two weeks in every month.

Alex: I miss Laura and the children like mad when they’re away. Particularly with Tahlia being so young, she changes so much during every trip. But I know how important Laura’s career is to her.

Can you tell us about your recent health scare, Laura?

A few weeks ago I started noticing that my legs were getting covered in bruises. At first I ignored it, but when Alex saw he made me get them checked out. A few days after going to the doctor for some blood tests, she rang me and told me I had to go straight to hospital because my platelet count was dangerously low. It should have been between 150 and 400 mine was 28. That sounds scary

I’ve only been to hospital three times once when I hurt myself during Dancing On Ice and twice to give birth. I was about to get on a plane when she called me so I had to drive home and meet Alex before going straight in for tests. I was in hospital for nine hours hooked up to an ECG monitor and having various things tested. They think I might have ITP [idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura], which means my immune system could be killing my platelets so they don’t clot when I bleed. Thankfully my count has gone up a bit in the last few days. I now have to wait a few weeks then go for more tests. If it hasn’t gone up I may have to take a course of steroids, but I’m hoping that won’t be necessary.

How is it affecting your everyday life?

I have to be careful not to bash into things because it’ll take longer for me to recover from any injuries. I’m also not allowed to drink alcohol because it kills the platelets. Luckily Alex has been very supportive throughout the whole thing. He’s very calm in a crisis. After we left the hospital he said to me that the whole thing had made him realise how much he loved me because he was so scared for me.

Is Alex very romantic?

Very. We love getting dressed up and going up to London for date nights. Alex bought me my diamond-studded eternity ring when Rocco was born as a push present and I recently surprised him with a Hublot watch.

What was behind your decision to lose weight?

While I was pregnant with Tahlia, Alex and I went to an event at Hamleys [toy shop] and when pictures of us appeared online, somebody commented: She needs to lose about four and a half stone.’ It really spurred me on.

That sounds really nasty! How did you do it?

As soon as I recovered from my second Caesarean, I started working out four times a week. Alex and I have a gym at home where I run and do weights and I also have one personal training session each week.

How about your diet?

I’ve cut out carbs and sugar, which was the big sticking point for me. I’m lucky that Alex is such a good cook he made us amazing steak with pepper sauce last night! Alex: Although we did hit the cheese afterwards!

Are you happy with your body now, Laura?

I’m much more confident and happier in myself. My goal was to get down to my wedding weight of 8st 6lb, but now I’m actually 8st 2lb. Alex: She’s worked so hard but she should stop losing weight now.

How did you get started on TV, Laura?

Doing a children’s TV show, The Fun Song Factory, with Aston Merrygold, who went on to be in JLS. Then I became the female face of Nickelodeon for a few years. After Dancing On Ice, I got the call to do A Place In The Sun and I’ve also done shows like Cowboy Builders.

What was your big break?

Undoubtedly Dancing On Ice in 2011 [below]. I was so, so lucky to be picked for the show even though people probably didn’t know who I was at the time! It was tough but I really threw myself into the experience and ended up loving skating. Then I did the first series of The Jump, in 2014, nine weeks after having Rocco. Because I’d had to have a Caesarean it was all the more dangerous!

What would be your dream job, TV-wise?

I’d love to make the jump onto primetime entertainment TV and really admire Claudia Winkleman and Davina McCall. They’re both game for a laugh. As much as I don’t want to become known as a reality TV veteran, I’d definitely do Strictly Come Dancing if I was offered the chance.

And do you have a plan B for your career?

I’m obsessed with interiors, so I would love to do more interior design and have my own interiors product line.Exclusive interview with Laura Hamilton on pregnancy, diet and …

INSIDE LAURA AND ALEX’S SURREY HOME

What appealed to you about this house?

Alex: My parents live very close by so I know Purley well and had always wanted to live on this private estate. When this property came up, Laura and I jumped at the opportunity, even though it needed a lot of work. What’s your favourite room? Laura: Rocco’s bedroom [left]. I’ve decorated it with furniture brand Wayfair as I wanted to prove that children’s bedrooms needn’t be pink or blue. It’s a calming, stylish space with fun touches like the teepee [right].

How do you make your house homely?

Alex: We’re obsessed with scented candles. Laura: Our favourites are Jo Malone, Heir & Grace and Monique Hart. The house is immaculate Laura: Both Alex and I are neat freaks. Alex is actually a little OCD about cleanliness, but we don’t have a cleaner.

Is this your forever home?

Laura: I think so, but Alex isn’t so sure!

Alex: I’d like to stay in this area, just not necessarily this house. Purley’s perfect for Laura’s work as it’s on the way to Gatwick Airport and I can get to work in the City, too.

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