Show business as usual for domestic diva Kimberley
It’s no surprise that Kimberley Walsh has become an organised showbiz mum juggling photoshoots with baby-groups, following marriage to a Tipperary man, writes Julia Molony ‘You want to put pictures of your children up, but you never know if it’s the right thing’
KIMBERLEY Walsh is sitting at a dining table, in the basement kitchen of a rented Airbnb property in deepest Peckham. It is a slightly incongruous setting for a veteran pop diva such as herself, but nonetheless, she looks pretty much at home.
Maybe it’s her 1950s pin-up figure, her no-nonsense Bradford accent, her can-do, capable air, but there is something about Kimberley that invokes the spirit of showbiz past. In another era, you could imagine her here, same pose, same spot, but with rollers in her hair, cigarette in hand.
But we’re in 2017, and as a modern mum-of-two, she’s not the smoking type. And she’s here today because it’s the location booked by TK Maxx for a shoot to accompany its annual Give Up Clothes For Good campaign, which Kimberley, along with a host of other celebrities, is fronting. She’s spent the morning posing for the camera alongside a group of child models for ads which will encourage customers to drop off their unwanted clothes, accessories and homeware to their nearest TX Maxx. These will then be passed on to Enable Ireland charity shops, to be converted into cash to fund therapy and support services for children with disabilities. It has come at a good time for Kimberley, this particular campaign. She was ready for a major wardrobe clear-out. Nine months ago, she gave birth to her second son, a boy named Cole (she also has four-year-old Bobby with husband Justin Scott). “I’ve been in that weird clothing stage where it’s not really clothes that I would wear normally,” she says. “Because they’re pre and post pregnancy. I’ve just been like ‘ let’s just get rid of it’ because even if I have another child in the future, I don’t want to be wearing these clothes for the third child. So let’s just say goodbye. And it does feels good.”
It’s a cause too, that holds more significance for her now “being a mum” than it might have done before. “Because the charities are around children, it does hold a bit more of a place in my heart,” she says. In the UK, the money raised by TK Maxx for Give Up Clothes for Good goes to a paediatric cancer charity. “I just can’t even imagine what it’s like for people going through these things... I can’t imagine how hard it must be for parents so I think, definitely, that gives me a push to just give away as much as possible.”
Getting rid of stuff, she says, is “therapeutic”. She seems the kind of person who has a reflex for order. “My mum was a hoarder so I think she pushed me in the opposite direction. She can’t bear it if I’m clearing stuff out... I feel much better giving it to a good cause if I haven’t worn it.”
Back in the days of Girls Aloud, when reality TV and Louis Walsh conspired to make her famous, Kimberley was always the steady one in the band. While Cheryl was getting arrested for a nightclub brawl, Sa- rah Harding was heading towards rehab, Nadine had one eye on solo fame in America and Nicola Roberts was struggling with low self-esteem, Kimberley was the sensible, stable one, who kept the same boyfriend throughout and always remained firmly in touch with her roots.
In the midst of the chaotic, disorientating experience of sudden fame, she kept her head level. Compulsively punctual, she’d always be the first dressed and ready to go, waiting for the others. “It used to drive me mad because in a band, everyone was always late. It’s just the way it is. I’d be the loser sat in the car on my own for half an hour while everybody else was running around trying to find all their stuff.” She met Justin Scott at a gig back in 2003. Born in Tipperary to an Irish mother and Jamaican father, he grew up in Bristol. “It’s an interesting mix we’ve got going on in our family,” she says of his heritage. “He talks about it all the time, and I’m like, ‘Yes, I know, you’re part Irish’. He goes on and on about it. And I’m like, ‘Well, so am I somewhere back in the genes, because I’m Walsh’.”
When they met, he was in a boy band called Triple 8, who were signed to Polydor, the same label as Girls Aloud. So he understands well the industry Kimberley is in, though he’s long since left it behind himself in favour of more pragmatic pursuits. He’s a builder and property developer now. In 2015, with more than a decade of history behind them, they got married in Barbados. “When we have a wedding anniversary — really it’s not fair — we need to add another 10 years plus onto it,” she says.
It says rather a lot about her that, no matter where her rather exotic day job has taken her, she has always remained safely anchored in the world of home; keeping the same, steady, reliable group of friends she’s had since her earliest days growing up in Yorkshire. “You can’t get much more grounded than Bradfordians,” she says. “They definitely bring you back to your roots if you even dare to try and get above yourself... I’ve always had my brothers and sisters and friends from home around me the whole time. “It’s really strange but my best friend — we literally met on the first day of primary school — she lived on my estate, she moved to London after me, and now she’s one of the editors at Stylist Magazine. She moved down to do her thing, and she was always in magazines and I was always singing. And she’s done what she wanted to do and I’ve done what I wanted to do. She’s got three kids and I’ve got two kids.
“I do think that massively helped and even through the band I had these friends that I’d been to school with and who had known me my whole life. Even with the band, if we’d done a gig on a Saturday night, my friends from home would meet us for that night out. It was just normal, but just with a few more free drinks thrown in the mix. It worked for them too, I guess. And now we’re all mums and juggling jobs with kids.”
Kimberley grew up on a small estate in Bradford, the second child of four. It was, from her earliest days, a childhood steeped in music. Her mother was a music teacher. And her father, she says, “used to sing in a band when he was young. He still hasn’t quite accepted the fact that it never worked out. He lived it through me instead, even my grandparents sang and played piano and stuff.”
Though three of the four children have ended up in the public eye, she and her siblings weren’t pushed into showbiz by their parents. Quite the contrary. “My mum didn’t have time because there were four of us. It was more a case of us driving her mad performing and begging to go to dance class all the time that she just gave in and was like “OK, I can get rid of them all for a few hours if they all go to stage school every night. And it paid off for her because we all really did take to it — and ended up choosing it as a career. Well, the three girls anyway. Her eldest sister Sally had a long-running role playing Lyn Hutchinson in Emmerdale. She’s since quit the soap to have a family and now the baby of the family,