Show busi­ness as usual for do­mes­tic diva Kim­ber­ley

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BRENDAN O’CONNOR -

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,

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