She may have turned 80 earlier this year, but perennially youthful and elegant TV presenter Gloria Hunniford brushes off her landmark birthday.
She smiles, ‘I don’t feel my age at all – I try not to think about it. I think I am just going to forget the figure eight!
‘I suppose I don’t feel bad about getting older because I’ve always worked and I’m still working.’
A presenter on BBC1’s Rip Off Britain and a Loose Women panellist on ITV, Gloria says, ‘When I was growing up, my parents taught me I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it. I’ve lived my life by that. I feel I’ve had many lives and I’ve been so lucky.’
The proud mum and grandmother, along with sons Paul and Michael, and husband Stephen Way, had planned a private birthday dinner at The Langham hotel in London, but she tells us it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She says, ‘It’s been a very unusual time, but throughout it, I just tried to be sensible and responsible. It’s been so hard not to hug my grandchildren.’
Now her 80th birthday celebrations with her family will be on 5 October, on what would have been her late daughter Caron Keating’s 58th birthday.
Since TV presenter Caron died in 2004, her sons, Charlie, 25, and Gabriel, 22, have been a big part of Gloria’s life, as are her eldest son Paul’s sons, Jake, 24, and Beau, 21.
She smiles, ‘I feel very close to them. We talk on the phone all the time and I ring my sons every day. Family is so precious.’
Before the lockdown, they often visited her and her second husband Stephen Way, 80, at their beautiful home in Sevenoaks, Kent.
Gloria has been married to the former Bond Street hair salon owner for almost 22 years and describes him as her ‘soulmate’.
She says, ‘Of course you want the physical attraction, even when you’re older, but solid friendship is so important too and there is nothing we can’t talk about.’
The couple married at Hever Castle in Kent in 1998 in front of all their family and friends. Between them, the pair have 10 grandchildren.
Gloria admits that there have been highs and lows in her life. Losing Caron to breast cancer after a seven-year battle was a heartbreaking time.
‘I don’t even know how to describe it. You never get over it, but in time, you learn to live around that big black hole she left in our lives. I talk about her all the time. I love the expression, “People never die if they live on the lips of the living.”’
A turning point in overcoming her grief was setting up the Caron Keating Foundation to ‘do good in her name’ and, in 2017, Gloria was awarded an OBE for her contributions to cancer charities.
Despite being the first woman to have her own daily radio show on BBC Radio 2, Gloria considers her ITV chat show Sunday, Sunday one of the greatest highlights of her career. As a fan of Hollywood movies, she was in her element interviewing legends like Sophia Loren and Sean Connery.
‘I was a little bit star-struck by them all,’ says Gloria, who named her daughter after the star of Gigi, French actress Leslie Caron. ‘Audrey Hepburn was gorgeous and elegant, and interviewing Deborah Kerr as she served me afternoon tea at her home in Switzerland was a “pinch me” moment.’
Referring to the coronavirus lockdown, she says, ‘Not working drove me mad! But I gave myself a project each day and Stephen and I coped well. Now my plan is to be busier than ever as life starts to get back to normal.’
And as for her stay-young secret? ‘La Prairie face cream. Lots of vitamins and walking our Cavalier King Charles spaniel Polly. She’s my baby.’