Hugs from my grand­chil­dren are the best men­tal health boost I can have


De­spite be­ing a happy, joy­ful per­son, ac­tress Sher­rie Hew­son tells she strug­gles with self-worth and the ef­fects of get­ting older

SHER­RIE HEW­SON ad­mits she strug­gled to face up to her in­creas­ing hear­ing loss, be­cause she’s “para­noid” about age­ing.

“I find my­self in de­nial about a lot of things which in­di­cate I’m get­ting older, and strug­gling to hear is one of the signs. I didn’t want to ad­mit it was hap­pen­ing,” says the ac­tress, 68, who was warned about the is­sue five years ago but ig­nored it.

“My hear­ing loss has been such a grad­ual thing that I didn’t no­tice it at first. I’d blame peo­ple who don’t speak loudly enough – ev­ery­thing I could think of apart from my­self,” she con­fides.

Not­ting­ham-born Sher­rie – well known for her role as the long suf­fer­ing man­ager of the Solana Ho­tel in ITV’S Benidorm, and pre­vi­ously dizzy shop as­sis­tant Mau­reen Web­ster in Corona­tion Street – has just started wear­ing hear­ing aids in both ears.

She dis­cov­ered she needed them dur­ing a check up at Spec­savers, and is work­ing with the brand to help re­duce the stigma as­so­ci­ated with hear­ing loss.

“I re­ally knew there must be some­thing wrong when my grand­daugh­ter said, ‘Nana, why are you al­ways shout­ing?’

“Now ev­ery­thing seems so clear, and I even have to turn down the aids some­times be­cause life feels too noisy,” she en­thuses. “They’re so tiny and yel­low to match my hair – you can’t see them.

“The au­di­ol­o­gist ex­plained I had sig­nif­i­cant hear­ing loss in my left ear – the ear I’ve al­ways used for an ear­piece for stu­dio work in shows like Loose Women,” she adds. “Maybe that was part of it.”

Although she ac­cepts she needs the hear­ing aids, here, the glam­orous and bub­bly star talks hon­estly about how she’s still bat­tling emo­tion­ally with the ef­fects of age­ing, and why con­tent­ment will al­ways elude her...

Why do you worry so much about age­ing?

I’VE al­ways had a prob­lem with it, it’s like a pho­bia. There’s noth­ing I like about age­ing and, in part, that’s be­cause I def­i­nitely lack con­fi­dence and self-worth. In my head, I think peo­ple are fo­cus­ing on how much I’ve aged. I tend to dwell on my lines and wrin­kles. I’ve had a lot of stress in my life over the years, things haven’t al­ways been easy, and that shows on my face.

I think be­ing in show busi­ness, where peo­ple do fo­cus on your ap­pear­ance a lot, doesn’t help ei­ther. But even I re­alise it’s silly to make so much of it, but I can’t seem to do any­thing about it. My mother, who was beau­ti­ful and still wear­ing a bikini in her 80s, used to get so cross and tell me: ‘You’ve got two choices in life – age­ing or death. Much bet­ter to set­tle for the first, so get on with it!’

I know she was right and these days I ac­cept that much more.

What age would you like to be?

ABOUT 20 years ago, when I was around 48, I think was ‘my time’, when I looked fresher and less wrinkly than I do now. I avoid mir­rors, but when I do [look at my­self ] and don’t see that young face any more, it’s a bit sad.

I had a facelift about 20 years ago and re­acted very badly to the anaes­thetic, so I’d never go there again, but if there was some­thing non-in­va­sive that could give me a bit of a boost, I’d go for it. I’ve tried Bo­tox, fillers and thread­ing and none of it lasts.

Would you ever re­tire?

NEVER, work is the only thing I know. I’ve never had a proper job in my life! I’ve worked pretty much con­tin­u­ously since I started at age six. I re­cently fin­ished repris­ing my role as ho­tel man­ager Joyce Tem­ple-sav­age in a UK tour with stage show Benidorm – Live, which has been in­cred­i­ble.

Are you happy?

I AM very happy but I think I’ll al­ways strug­gle to have that calm con­tent­ment some peo­ple reach at my age, be­cause I’m very rest­less by na­ture. I’m al­ways look­ing for more ex­cite­ment. I’m a plan­ner and love con­stant ac­tiv­ity and busy­ness. I’m not a good sleeper be­cause once my brain starts rolling, I can’t stop it.

What’s got you through the tough times?

FIRST, I’m a sur­vivor – my mother, an in­cred­i­bly strong per­son, gave me the steel that goes right through me and cre­ated a char­ac­ter who can get through just about ev­ery­thing.

The girls on Loose Women were won­der­ful friends and helped me through so much. I was on the show 15 years and would go back to­mor­row. I miss the girls, they were there for me when I went through my dread­ful di­vorce, lost my hair and suf­fered all sorts of stresses.

You’re cur­rently sin­gle – would you like a part­ner?

I’VE to­tally given up on look­ing for love. I don’t think that will hap­pen to me now. I haven’t met any­one since I split from my hus­band [DJ Ken Boyd who she mar­ried in 1983].

We were to­gether 24 years but re­ally we should prob­a­bly have called it a day af­ter five. My one re­gret is that both of us should have faced up to the fact it wasn’t work­ing far ear­lier than we did. It’s a ter­ri­ble shame but we’re friends now and have a won­der­ful daugh­ter out of it.

How do you look af­ter your health?

I’VE been lucky never to have any­thing se­ri­ously wrong with me. I try to help my­self stay healthy. I don’t eat red meat be­cause I don’t think it’s eas­ily di­gested, I avoid sweet things, and I only drink say a glass or two of wine. I take vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments and mag­ne­sium.

And how do you look af­ter your well­be­ing?

THE loves of my life are my grand­chil­dren – Oliver, 12, Molly, eight, and the lat­est one, Rosie, five weeks. They’re the rea­son my heart beats and hugs and cud­dles from them are the best men­tal health boost I can have. I ab­so­lutely love be­ing a granny be­cause it means I can play, have fun and be silly, and of course, it’s bril­liant spend­ing time with their mum, my daugh­ter Kee­ley.

For the first time in my life, I’m giv­ing my­self a lit­tle break from work­ing so I can spend some more time with the fam­ily.

■ Sher­rie Hew­son is work­ing with Spec­savers to help re­move the stigma as­so­ci­ated with hear­ing loss. For more in­for­ma­tion or to book a hear­ing check, visit spec­­ing

Sher­rie Hew­son, above, and below in 2009, with some of the Loose Woman team, Carol Mcgif­fin, Jackie Bram­bles, An­drea Mclean, Les­ley Gar­rett and Jane Mcdon­ald

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