This one’s for the boys

Jo­hanna Griggs’ healthy sons are one rea­son she sup­ports the RCH Good Fri­day Ap­peal, writes Dar­ren Dev­lyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

THERE seems lit­tle mys­tery be­hind Jo­hanna Griggs’ sta­tus as one of Chan­nel 7’s most bank­able stars.

The pun­ters re­spond to Griggs be­cause they see her as the gen­uine ar­ti­cle in an in­dus­try with more than its share of fakes.

Griggs has the all-im­por­tant ‘‘like­abil­ity’’ fac­tor, a prag­matic earth­i­ness and the abil­ity to have a laugh at her own ex­pense.

And in me­dia cir­cles there’s an ad­mi­ra­tion for Griggs that stems from the re­silience she’s shown in the face of ad­ver­sity.

Her first ma­jor hur­dle came in 1991, when her swim­ming ca­reer was short-cir­cuited by chronic fa­tigue syn­drome. Griggs bounced back by forg­ing a new ca­reer as a pre­sen­ter on Seven.

To work in com­mer­cial TV is to risk fail­ure in the most pub­lic way. Griggs en­dured just that five years later when Seven fired her.

Never one to wal­low in self-pity, Griggs dusted her­self off and res­ur­rected her ca­reer on the ABC and Fox­tel, so im­press­ing Seven that the net­work rehired her in 2000.

She hasn’t looked back, ex­celling as a pre­sen­ter on shows in­clud­ing Bet­ter Homes and Gar­dens, Sportsworld, Auc­tion Squad and the net­work’s Olympics and rac­ing cov­er­age. She even knocked back a huge of­fer to leave Seven for Nine.

But though com­mit­ted to her ca­reer, Griggs is adamant her fam­ily is the No.1 pri­or­ity.

The de­mands of moth­er­hood were brought sharply into fo­cus af­ter the end of her mar­riage to ac­tor Gary Sweet. She be­came a sin­gle mum to their boys Jesse, now 12, and Joe, 11, and is very aware how cru­cial she’s been to their sense of well-be­ing.

Given the boys have been a re­cur­rent emo­tional touch­stone, it’s no sur­prise Griggs is pas­sion­ate about char­i­ties that sup­port chil­dren and is keen to play her part in the Royal Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal Ap­peal on Good Fri­day.

‘‘There are a lot of peo­ple who work on the tele­cast who do more than me, but I’m just happy to be in­volved,’’ Griggs says.

‘‘I know it’s get­ting harder and harder for peo­ple to give money to char­i­ties, but this one is spe­cial. You see the sto­ries (about sick chil­dren) that are told dur­ing the tele­cast and they re­ally do get to you.

‘‘My boys have been in­cred­i­bly healthy. When they were younger there were vis­its to hospi­tal for gas­tro and a bro­ken arm, but friends of mine with chil­dren haven’t been so for­tu­nate. I feel I’ve been pretty lucky.’’

That sense of luck has ex­tended to her love life fol­low­ing Griggs’ mar­riage to Todd Hug­gins.

‘‘It re­ally doesn’t get any bet­ter than this,’’ Griggs says. ‘‘I have a re­ally in­ter­est­ing and var­ied life and the kids and I are shar­ing it with some­one who’s a de­light.

‘‘It’s brought great sta­bil­ity to me and the boys.’’

Griggs had dated other men, but soon af­ter her younger brother set her up with build­ing fore­man Hug­gins, she re­alised the re­la­tion­ship had long-term prospects.

GRIGGS, with her chil­dren at the fore­front of her mind, was care­ful not to rush into a sec­ond mar­riage.

‘‘It wasn’t a dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion (for the chil­dren to ac­cept her mar­ry­ing Hug­gins),’’ Griggs says.

‘‘It was more of a tran­si­tion for me, be­ing a con­trol freak. For 10 years I made ev­ery sin­gle de­ci­sion. Then I met some­one who was pa­tient, re­laxed and daggy. He’ll say to me, ‘Yeah, great idea, con­trol freak’.

‘‘He laughs, says both of us are in the re­la­tion­ship when it comes to mak­ing de­ci­sions. He’s brought a bal­ance to my life I re­ally didn’t think was pos­si­ble.’’

Griggs says her kids were ec­static when she told them she was mar­ry­ing Hug­gins.

‘‘They had pushed the re­la­tion­ship, any­way,’’ she says. ‘‘When I went away for the Win­ter Olympics, Todd hung out with the kids ev­ery day, kicked the footy with them.

‘‘He said to them, ‘I don’t just love your mum’. It was about all of us. ‘‘He’s a coun­try boy who is not that com­fort­able with the idea of ev­ery­one know­ing your busi­ness and he found this (me­dia in­ter­est in their re­la­tion­ship) in­cred­i­bly hard at the start.

‘‘He finds it weird peo­ple want to stop and talk when we go to the shops.

‘‘My at­ti­tude is, why shouldn’t peo­ple stop you to have a chat be­cause if they’re not watch­ing you on TV and ig­nor­ing you, you don’t have a show.’’

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