A NEW CHAP­TER

Wilmslow ac­tor Denise Welch cleaned up her act and is busier than ever. Is there no stop­ping her?

Cheshire Life - - Per­son­al­i­ties - WORDS: Janet Reeder

If any­one could boast a new chap­ter in their life, it’s Wilmslow ac­tor Denise Welch.

Af­ter kick­ing the booze with her artist hus­band Lin­coln Town­ley and es­cap­ing from the du­bi­ous plea­sures of life in the cap­i­tal, the for­mer Corona­tion Street star and Loose Women reg­u­lar is now busier than ever.

Not only is she in the midst of a mam­moth tour in the Gary Bar­low mu­si­cal Cal­en­dar Girls, her lat­est book A Mother’s Bond hit the shelves re­cently, win­ning her praise from read­ers and fel­low authors alike.

Denise, who re­cently cel­e­brated her 60th birth­day, has al­ready penned two au­to­bi­ogra­phies and a novel but re­veals that it was never her in­ten­tion to be­come an au­thor.

‘I had no de­sire in me to write. I was never one of those peo­ple who say “Ooh I’ve got a book in me I can’t wait to see my book on a shelf”. I was very much a hired hand ac­tress,’ she says.

‘Then, when I was do­ing Loose Women a lot and my life was in freefall for quite some time - self-med­i­cat­ing, de­pres­sion and ev­ery­thing - my then man­ager came to me and said “They want you to write your au­to­bi­og­ra­phy and there’s a hand­some ad­vance on the ta­ble”. I said “I have no idea how to do that. I don’t want to do it” but he con­vinced me that as ev­ery­thing I did was very pub­lic any­way wasn’t it time I put the nar­ra­tive of my life into my own words? I was put in touch with a woman called Re­becca Cripps, a ghost­writer, and I worked with her on my first au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.’

Denise freely ad­mits that her mem­ory of events was ter­ri­ble and if it wasn’t for Re­becca she could never have pieced ev­ery­thing to­gether.

‘It was al­most like a ther­apy ses­sion. She fol­lowed me around the coun­try for a year do­ing in-depth in­ter­views with me,’ she re­veals.

‘To be hon­est, I’ve no idea how I could have writ­ten it. It was do­ing the in­ter­views that helped me with my mem­ory. It was a best-sell­ing book and although I credit my­self for be­ing brave enough to put my sex, drugs and rock and roll life­style there, I don’t take credit for ac­tu­ally writ­ing it.’

The se­cond book was a fol­low up, called Start­ing Over but as she was still be­set by per­sonal prob­lems, Denise says the ti­tle didn’t ring true for her.

‘I didn’t feel like I was start­ing over,’ she ad­mits. ‘So I kind of dis­missed that book. And no­body came knock­ing on my door say­ing “Hey we want a novel.

“I was never one of those peo­ple who say ‘Ooh I’ve got a book in me, I can’t wait to see my book on a shelf”

We are in­ter­ested in your made-up char­ac­ters”. Noth­ing like that at all. I was at a friend’s house in Lon­don and I had a flash of in­spi­ra­tion about this book where peo­ple would think one thing was go­ing to hap­pen but it was a dif­fer­ent thing al­to­gether. So I wrote this chap­ter and showed it to Re­becca, who made a few lit­tle tweaks. I went with her lit­er­ary agent and we pushed it out. We had 12 re­jec­tions and two ac­cep­tances. I was over the moon. We de­cided we’d go to Lit­tle Brown (the pub­lisher) un­til I re­alised I’d only writ­ten one chap­ter. I’d got to write the rest of the book!’ And this I did with the guid­ance of Re­becca.’

She likens the process to child­birth and it all starts in bed!

‘I write in long­hand. I write in bed as if I’m Bar­bara Cart­land, ac­cept­ing cups of tea from who­ever is around the house. When it’s fin­ished and changes have been made and it’s about to go it’s a bit like child­birth. It wasn’t so bad af­ter all. Maybe I could do an­other one!’

There will be an­other book. The next book is go­ing to be a non- fic­tion.

‘I didn’t feel like I had started over, but now I do. Now I have started over and the ques­tions peo­ple ask me ev­ery day are “How did you stop drink­ing? How did you stop smok­ing? How do you keep your weight down? How did you turn your life around?” And I guess that’s the story I want to tell. It’s not about say­ing how you do it. It’s about how I did it and if you can take any strength from that then so be it.’

One of the rea­sons she has been able to ditch the rock and roll life­style has been mak­ing her home in Wilmslow which she now shares with her 45-yearold hus­band Lin­coln, who she mar­ried in 2013.

She moved to Cheshire around 20 years ago with her then hus­band Tim Healy and el­der son Matthew Healy, the singer with the world fa­mous The 1975 band.

Denise and Tim had moved back to New­cas­tle, which is where they were both brought up, when Denise was preg­nant with Matthew.

‘When Matt was about nine I got Corona­tion Street which was ini­tially just a few episodes. Then it went to three months then six months and then it was for a year. But I was re­ally home­sick and I said to Tim ei­ther I don’t do it, or we move down here tem­po­rar­ily for a year. But then a year be­came two, then be­came three be­came four and I was preg­nant with Louis, which was un­ex­pected, and Matthew was in school here and so it be­came our home.

‘To this day I live in one part of Wilmslow and Tim moved back with his now wife - she’s a Wilmslow girl and they live here as well so we are all Cheshire based Ge­ordies!’

In fact they’ll all share Christ­mas to­gether at home in Wilmslow. ‘I love Wilmslow, ‘ says Denise. ‘I have got a lot of great peo­ple up here and I feel very safe here. Where I live, I’m a mile from Wilmslow and a mile from Alderley Edge, so Lin­coln and I have all those lovely places to go to for din­ner, for cof­fees and lunches and things.

‘In sum­mer in Alderley Edge you al­most feel like you’re on hol­i­day and ev­ery­where is com­pletely ac­ces­si­ble here.

‘This is very much a place that I have em­braced and the peo­ple here have em­braced me. I do con­sider Wilmslow very much as my home.’

“I didn’t feel like I had started over, but now I do”

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