From pop princess to proud parent, Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh has come a long way, baby. By Gabrielle Fagan
Kimberley Walsh is looking proud, but a little apprehensive as she watches son Bobby Jay, ten months, test his standing skills. “He’s got bored with crawling and now he loves standing up all the time and wobbling until he suddenly topples over or sits down with a bump, it’s so sweet,” coos the former Girls Aloud star and Strictly Come Dancing competitor.
She hopes to have more children with her fiancé and partner of 12 years, Justin Scott, who was in British hiphop band, Triple 8, and is now a property developer.
“I absolutely love being a mum. Every day I fall more in love with him. I love looking after somebody else. It’s about being selfless, putting Bobby first and doing what’s best for him. I was totally ready for that. He’s the priority and I think if you’re not prepared to do that for a child, you’re not ready to be a mum,” declares the 33-year-old, who’s looking glamorous, radiant and slim – but this down-to-earth Bradford girl insists she didn’t, “celebrity style”, get straight back into her skinny jeans post pregnancy.
“I honestly didn’t think about my figure until Bobby was six months old because that really wasn’t my concern – I was focused on my son. Since then I’ve gradually cut down on carbs and done exercises when he has his naps. I’m not far off being ‘back to normal’, but I’m a mummy so I still have a bit of a tummy and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
Kimberley found fame at 21 when she auditioned for ITV’s Popstars: The Rivals in 2002 and became one fifth of Girls Aloud. The band had 20 top ten singles, six platinum albums and five BRIT nominations in 11 years, finally splitting to pursue solo careers in 2013. As well as presenting roles, in 2011 Walsh made her West End stage debut as Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical, was a joint runner-up in Strictly in 2012 and this month stars in Sweet Charity with Denise Van Outen. Then she starts rehearsals for West End musical, Elf, which opens in October. “I’ve actually been quite broody since I was about 15, but I wanted to establish my career, and have proper security and a good lifestyle before I brought a child into the world,” she says.
“I’m not quite ready yet, but in the not too distant future, we’d like [Bobby] to have a couple of brothers or sisters. Justin adores Bobby and is a very hands-on dad, so we share the work and are a good team. We’re determined not to have a nanny and to do everything ourselves, with help from my mum when I’m working.”
The baby’s birth coincided with Justin’s proposal. “The doctors and nurses had left us alone and we were in that euphoric stage of staring at this new little baby and feeling so elated. I’d just handed Bobby to Justin and he had him in one arm and then he slipped his other hand in his pocket and suddenly went down on one knee and pulled out this gorgeous diamond ring,” she says, beaming at the memory.
“I have to admit I’d dropped hints over the years about what I’d like for a ring and I’ve got to hand it to him, he got it absolutely right. It was so romantic. We were both in floods of tears because we were so happy and overwhelmed.”
Their relationship weathered all her years in the spotlight and the relentless touring and performing schedule during Girls Aloud because: “I always felt with Justin I had that solid support and the best friend you need amidst all that stress and pressure. Obviously we’ve had ups and downs but we both thought it was a relationship worth working on and neither of us wanted to be anywhere else, so that’s why we stayed together, I guess.
“The wedding will be sometime next year. We’ve just started looking at venues and making plans. Bobby will be a pageboy, but I’m not sure how much he will contribute on the day! It will depend on his mood.”
Former bandmates, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Nicola Roberts will be bridesmaids – both are regular visitors to Walsh’s home.
“Cheryl and Nicola have been really amazing at coming over a lot since Bobby’s birth and helping me out, which has been so nice,” says Walsh, who’s the second member of the band to start a family. Fellow bandmate Nadine Coyle gave birth to Anaiya 16 months ago. The fifth band member is Sarah Harding.
“Cheryl lives nearby and it’s great that she can chill at mine away from the attention of the media and have proper quality time with Bobby and lots of cuddles. I don’t think it’s made her feel broody, though. If anything, I think she realises it’s nice to have babies for a bit then hand them back and go back to your civilised existence!”
Walsh already had experience of parenting, as a step-mum to Justin’s 16-year-old daughter, Chloe. “I’ve known her since she was five and watched her grow up and she’s a lovely girl, so it’s been a pleasure being a step-mum,” she says.
She’s anxious to ensure she successfully juggles career and motherhood. She returned to hosting a weekly shopping slot on ITV’s This Morning in December.“I’m so lucky that what I’ve been offered is brilliant but for quite short periods. I’ll probably be very tired with shows till late in the evenings and looking after Bobby in the day, especially during Elf, but that’s only a ten-week run so I’ll be fine. I’m determined not to miss things like his first steps and words, so I’ll just have to keep fit so my energy levels are high. Anyway, my years in the band taught me how to work hard and cope with long hours,” says Walsh, who recently launched Comfort’s new Intense range, designed to deliver “intense freshness from wash to wear”.
She looks back on Girls Aloud with affection. “We had an amazing run of nearly 12 years and achieved everything we hoped for. We all felt we ended on a high, there were no hard feelings and nothing was left unfinished. Now we’ve all grown up and moved on to other things.”
“I don’t feel like I’ve changed hugely from when I first started out except then I was rather shy and reserved and now I’m more confident and the girls helped me toughen up, which I needed to do.
“My advice to anyone going into this business is to surround yourself with people who share your values, so you stay the person you are and don’t get caught up in the shallow aspects of it, and enjoy it while it lasts. I’ve tried to be a good person and to treat people as I’d like to be treated. That’s the way I was brought up and I’ll pass that on to Bobby.”
Kimberley Walsh has launched the new Comfort Intense range. Find out more at www.comfortintense.com
Sweet Charity in concert, 19-22 August, www.cadoganhall.com