‘Mark got down on one knee and pro­posed in Paris, then said he was glad I’d said yes as he had booked the wed­ding in Ja­maica ... in seven weeks’ time’

BBC NI’s news­reader Linzi Lima talks to Stephanie Bell about her DJ hus­band’s very ro­man­tic pro­posal and jug­gling bring­ing up daugh­ter Clara with a busy me­dia ca­reer

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - INTERVIEW -

Linzi Lima might just be mar­ried to one of North­ern Ire­land’s most ro­man­tic men. BBC North­ern Ire­land’s new­est news­reader de­scribes hus­band Mark Lima as the fam­ily joker, but the DJ wasn’t fool­ing around when he asked Linzi to marry him. Mark (43) whisked her off to one of the most ro­man­tic cities in the world, Paris, to pro­pose, pop­ping the ques­tion on bended knee on the river­bank be­low the Eif­fel Tower.

He then left an al­ready sur­prised Linzi totally gob-smacked when he re­vealed he had also se­cretly or­gan­ised their en­tire wed­ding for just seven weeks later.

The 33-year-old, who lives with Mark in Dun­don­ald, where they’re dot­ing par­ents to lit­tle Clara (2), laughs as she re­calls the events of five years ago.

“We had been to­gether seven years and it had be­come a bit of a run­ning joke about when we were go­ing to tie the knot,” she says.

“I’d al­ways wanted to go to Paris, and Mark sur­prised me with a trip there. He got down on one knee and pro­posed, then he said he was glad I’d said yes be­cause the wed­ding was booked for seven weeks’ time in Ja­maica.

“I don’t know if I was still stand­ing at that point. I had no idea — it was all such a sur­prise.

“I ab­so­lutely loved that he did it. I am ter­ri­ble at mak­ing de­ci­sions, so to have that taken out of my hands was lovely. It meant I didn’t have to think about it and it was all taken care of.

“Thank­fully, the only thing he hadn’t thought of was the dress, be­cause Mark and I would have very dif­fer­ent ideas about fash­ion. Ev­ery­thing else was per­fect... it was the best sur­prise ever.”

The cou­ple en­joyed a quiet ro­man­tic wed­ding on a stun­ning sandy beach in Run­away Bay, Ja­maica, with Linzi’s sis­ter, Sa­man­tha, and Mark’s best friend as the only guests.

On re­turn­ing home, they held a tra­di­tional re­cep­tion for all their fam­ily and friends in Belfast.

Linzi grew up in the east of the city, the el­dest of eight chil­dren. As she says, fam­ily is the most im­por­tant thing in her life. Her par­ents al­ways en­cour­aged her to fol­low her dreams, and to­day, as a hap­pily mar­ried, dot­ing mum with her BBC ca­reer tak­ing off, she is do­ing just that. Linzi stud­ied for a com­mu­ni­ca­tions de­gree at Ul­ster Univer­sity in Jor­danstown, al­ways with an eye on a ca­reer in the me­dia. She honed her skills dur­ing her de­gree by work­ing with lo­cal com­mu­nity broad­caster NVTV. Like most stu­dents, im­me­di­ately af­ter grad­u­at­ing she took work where she could find it, spend­ing a few years work­ing in a call cen­tre and a bank, all the while never los­ing sight of her dream to go into broad­cast­ing.

The lure of a busy news­room was al­ways her goal, and she fi­nally se­cured a job at BBC North­ern Ire­land’s Ormeau Av­enue base, al­beit first in ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“I was al­ways in­ter­ested in broad­cast­ing, and dur­ing uni I did a lot of vol­un­tary work with NVTV and worked on my own en­ter­tain­ment show with them,” she says.

“I re­ally en­joyed that — it was a great op­por­tu­nity and it re­ally opened my eyes as to how the in­dus­try worked.

“When I got the job as an ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant in the BBC nine years ago, it wasn’t what I wanted to do as a ca­reer, but it gave me a chance to learn even more.

“Out­side of my job in the BBC, I worked on putting to­gether an en­ter­tain­ment guide for Ci­ty­beat ra­dio, just to get the ex­pe­ri­ence. I worked in the BBC ad­min­is­tra­tion role for

Clara’s the first grand­child so she’s sur­rounded by peo­ple who dote on her

four years, us­ing that time to learn as much as I could about the BBC.

“That whole pe­riod helped me to iden­tify that it was news that I re­ally en­joyed and wanted to work in.

“I loved the fast pace of the news­room and I tried to find out as much as I could about it. I was just so ex­cited to sit in the gallery and see the live pro­gramme go­ing out. I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Linzi, whose maiden name is Corr, would have al­ready been known to many peo­ple for pro­duc­ing and pre­sent­ing The Girl Fri­day Guide for Ci­ty­beat on her now hus­band Mark’s show a few years ago.

The DJ, who is cur­rently a pre­sen­ter at Q Ra­dio, was well-known for his award-win­ning break­fast show on Ci­ty­beat.

He was happy to guide and help his very am­bi­tious girl­friend with her weekly events guide, which cov­ered ev­ery­thing from art, the­atre and ex­hi­bi­tions to fes­ti­vals, food and fam­ily fun days.

“It just hap­pened that the guide worked best on Mark’s show, and that’s how we ended up broad­cast­ing to­gether,” Linzi says.

“We were go­ing out to­gether at the time, but it was strictly busi­ness on the show. It was a bit like hav­ing a rel­a­tive teach you how to drive, be­cause Mark would have given me hints and tips on im­prov­ing my de­liv­ery and on how I pro­duced my seg­ment. That felt like crit­i­cism some­times, but look­ing back it re­ally helped be­cause he knows his stuff.

“I used to pro­duce video con­tent for my web­site sec­tion on ac­tiv­i­ties you could take part in across North­ern Ire­land, so I got my own back by re­cruit­ing him as my un­paid cam­era­man — we were jump­ing into icy cold Strang­ford Lough coas­t­eer­ing one week and then fly­ing glid­ers on the north coast the next. It was a lot of fun.”

Linzi’s hard work fi­nally paid off when the BBC ad­ver­tised a po­si­tion for a trainee jour­nal­ist. She ap­plied, and with her ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind her, se­cured the job three years ago. Since then, her star has been ris­ing.

While she has cov­ered her own sto­ries and read news bul­letins for BBC Ra­dio Ul­ster, her week is now di­vided be­tween read­ing the break­fast and lunch-time news, as well as work­ing as a se­nior jour­nal­ism re­searcher.

It means 5.30am starts twice a week, although Linzi doesn’t mind those be­cause it works well with her home life, free­ing up most of the af­ter­noon for spend­ing time with Clara.

Read­ing the news is her dream job. “I haven’t looked back since get­ting the trainee po­si­tion,” she says. “I’ve had so many op­por­tu­ni­ties to work on so many dif­fer­ent things in news with fan­tas­tic peo­ple.

“I just love the fast pace of the news­rooms and how things have to be turned around so quickly. Read­ing the break­fast and lunch-time news is very busy in it­self.

“I have a 5.30am start, and when you come in you are check­ing to see which sto­ries are mak­ing the head­lines and which sto­ries have bro­ken overnight.

“There are three of us, so it is a small team and we would be work­ing with our col­leagues in ra­dio and dig­i­tal.

“Then, af­ter the break­fast news, we will be do­ing the same rou­tines for the lunch-time bulletin, and that is an­other busy pro­gramme. “The rest of the week I will be as­sist­ing jour­nal­ists and help­ing put pro­grammes out. I’d also be in the TV gallery help­ing to set up sto­ries and putting pack­ages to­gether. “I love the va­ri­ety of the job, and I have also brought my own sto­ries to air. If I see some­thing I think is worth cov­er­ing, I will put my own pack­age to­gether. “Read­ing the news was al­ways a bit of a dream for me, and it is an hon­our to be asked to do it. I love what I am do­ing now so, look­ing ahead, I just want to do more of the same.” Away from her busy broad­cast­ing ca­reer, Linzi’s life re­volves around her fam­ily — daugh­ter Clara, hus­band Mark, her mother and fa­ther and her seven broth­ers and sis­ters. Her par­ents di­vorced when she was 14, and her mum re­mar­ried. Linzi has a sis­ter, two broth­ers, two half-broth­ers and two half-sis­ters and is close to every one of them. “De­spite the mas­sive age gap — my youngest brother is 10 years old — we are all very close,” she says. “Clara is the first grand­child in the fam­ily, so she is sur­rounded by peo­ple who dote on her and want to have her for sleep­overs at the week­end.” Mark and Linzi have been to­gether for 12 years, and first met on St Valen­tine’s Day, although they didn’t get to­gether un­til a few months later when their paths crossed again at an awards event. It was an­other mem­o­rable oc­ca­sion, be­cause Linzi ac­ci­den­tally knocked Mark’s award off the ta­ble and smashed it.

HAPPY FAM­ILY: Linzi and Mark with daugh­ter Clara. Cir­cled be­low, the cou­ple on a night out in Belfast be­fore they mar­ried in the Caribbean

FA­MIL­IAR FACE: Main pic­ture, Linzi Lima (also in­set be­low) read­ing the news for BBC NI and (above) the happy fam­ily en­joy­ing a day out in the sun­shine

PROUD DAD: Mark with baby daugh­ter Clara

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