Gaby Roslin: I used to apologise for being so happy – but not any more
TV and radio host Gaby Roslin is fronting a Samaritans-led campaign aimed at making ordinary but potentially lifesaving connections with people who are depressed or suicidal. She spoke to Gabrielle Fagan
GABY Roslin's blend of bubbly enthusiasm, seemingly boundless energy and ability to chat to anyone, has helped make her a popular radio and TV presenter.
"People feel they know me because I've been a presenter on radio and TV for 32 years and in their lives for so long. They come up to me and say, 'Hello, Gaby', because they feel I'm a friend," explains Roslin, who looks a decade younger than her 54 years.
Her major breakthrough was appearing alongside Chris Evans on The Big Breakfast back in the 90s, and over the years she has presented a host of shows.
"I just love talking to people and people like talking to me. I'm very open emotionally, like connecting with people, and I'm nosy," Roslin adds. "Ever since I was a child, people have always confided in me and told me their secrets, worries, fears and joys."
Now, Roslin, who has two daughters (Libbi, 17, from her first marriage to musician Colin Peel, and Amelie, 12, with her husband, publisher David Osman), is urging us all to talk more to strangers, as part of a new mental health campaign to help reduce suicides.
"I recently approached a young woman in Regent's Park who was sitting on a bench crying. I thought if that was my daughter, I'd want someone to stop and speak. I asked her if she needed help and we sat and spoke for a while. I urged her to get some help. I hope she's OK.
"The little conversations we have every day can be all that's needed to interrupt suicidal thoughts. Once you know you have the power to make a difference, you're more likely to step in and do something. That's why I've got involved in the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign," says Roslin. "We all need to look out for one another.
"Every time I hear of someone taking their own life, it breaks my heart. No-one should ever feel alone and there is always, always somebody there to listen and help. Taking just a few moments out of your day to help someone you think may be in need – even by exchanging just a few words – is so important."
As for Roslin's approach to her own health and wellbeing, when asked how she feels about getting older, she replies: "If anybody asks my age, I always say 42/12! I'm not ashamed of my age, 54, for goodness sake. What you see is what you get with me – I've got a few lines – I'm not an advocate of plastic surgery or those sort of things – and I dye my hair blonde and have worn fake tan for the last 20 years.
"The bonus as you get older is you feel even more comfortable and confident in yourself. I love life and have always been a very positive person. People used to question how I could always look happy, and I used to end up apologising for it.
"After my mum, Jackie, died 22 years ago when I was in my 30s, I thought, 'You know what, I'm not apologising for loving life any more'. Of course, I've been through hard times – bereavement, a divorce, losing friends to cancer – but that's made me even more aware that life's so precious and we have to make the most of it."
She walks everywhere – "about seven miles a day – which is great because it gets the blood pumping and is fantastic for your mind".
"It's when I get my best ideas, Roslin says. She also goes to the gym around four times a week and does Pilates.
"I'm very health-conscious about food," she says. It's really important that you put the right things in your body. I have a wheat allergy so I don't have any gluten, and we eat organic fruit, vegetables and sustainable fish as much as possible, and no red meat because I can't bear to eat animals. I love animals too much.
"I gave up alcohol a year ago and will only drink occasionally now, when I'm on holiday. I just suddenly decided I was bored with it and didn't want any more hangovers. I also don't have caffeine. People say it must be boring but it's not at all, and I feel very happy and well."
:: Gaby Roslin is supporting the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign. For more info, search 'Small Talk Saves Lives'.