Declan Wilson: Talking to the Q Radio listeners every day really saved me

Gail Bells asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Q Radio breakfast show presenter, Declan Wilson

Declan Wilson most missed hugs, pubs and live music during the pandemic
Gail Bell

Declan Wilson hosts the Q Radio breakfast show


Up and at it - what is your new morning routine? How has it changed?

Since I took on the Q Radio breakfast show, my new morning routine consists of waking up at 4.30am on weekday mornings and I absolutely love it. The show doesn't kick off until 6am, but getting up that little bit earlier makes me feel like I am getting the best out of a full day.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

As long as there is coffee, I can go without breakfast, but usually it's Weetabix.


Lunch will be a sandwich or a binge (crisps, chocolate...) followed by more coffee.

Evening meal?

Some sort of home-cooked meal including chops, steak or chicken.


Have you been able to work from home – if so, how have you found it?

If I really wanted to, I could work from home. We are more than prepared should I need to do my radio show from home, but heading into the studio every day throughout the pandemic has been a saviour for my mental health. I don't think I would have coped well being cooped in the house 24/7.


Best/easiest lockdown meal?

Pitta pizza. It's so easy and quick to make and it's yummy; not that I ever do the cooking - my job is the washing up.


Weekend treat?

Pints of Guinness, red wine and a Chinese takeaway - that's me happy.


How have you kept physically and mentally fit during lockdown?

I tried to get to the gym as often as I could throughout the pandemic, but restrictions sometimes scuppered those plans, so I went on daily walks to keep myself active. My job played a massive role in keeping me mentally fit - talking to the listeners every day really saved me.


What has been your daily outdoor exercise?

Just going on walks most nights - you would usually find me walking around the Titanic quarter in Belfast. I love walking down by the shipyard taking in all the sights.


How do you relax?

A bottle of red wine and a big cheese board while listening to music is a massive win for me. You just can't beat it.


Teetotal or tipple?

A million per cent tipple.


What book are you currently reading?

Reading is something I don't do often enough; I get agitated if I'm not moving or physically doing something, but I have purchased Chris Evans's book It's Not What You Think, so I will 100 per cent give that a read.


Best Netflix?

Schitt's Creek is an incredible watch.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself?

I would do anything for a dare. We ran a feature on the breakfast show called Decky's Dares and for that segment of the show I dressed up as Barbie and walked around town, ate one of the world's hottest chillies (it nearly killed me), experienced a labour pain simulator, got my chest waxed live on air and jumped out of an aeroplane at 10,000 feet. It all made great radio.


On a scale of one to 10, where have you been in relation to cabin fever and where are you now?

Things are hopefully returning to some form of normal now, so at the moment I would say I am a four out of 10. When the pandemic was at its worst, I was sitting at about a seven. I didn't have it as bad as others, though, as I still was in my routine of driving into work every day, but not being able to socialise was the hardest thing.


What are the three things you missed most during the beginning of lockdown?

Hugging my family, going for a quiet pint and live music.


Where will you go and what will you do when restrictions are fully lifted?

I should have been married by now - we had three different dates, but due to the coronavirus pandemic we have had to postpone. We will definitely be making the most out of our honeymoon after we get married this September. It will be a huge holiday, so hopefully it all goes according to plan. We have a few holidays to catch up on.


Biggest gripe?

Online trolls. Just because you think something, it doesn't mean you have to type it and ruin someone's day. Just be kind. Bear in mind that a small, nasty comment could really affect someone's mental health. I like to give people little compliments on a day-to-day basis, just to pass on the positivity. I'm a big believer in paying it forward.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

For me, my priority will always be family life. Nothing will ever come before my family. The whole Covid situation made me look at my working life in a different perspective - I was always busy on the radio during the week, then at weekends I would have been away playing music or DJ'ing. I never made time for myself. I realise now how important this is and I give myself some proper time to chill out and relax. It really helps with your mental health to slow down every once in a while.


Any new skills or hobbies?

Skydiving. I would never have done that in a million years and now I can.


What would you like to see change for good when this is all over?

A few things... I'd love to see people showing more appreciation for all the people who had to work 10 times harder throughout the pandemic. I also hope it's wakened us up to practise basic hygiene. I've seen people come into a bathroom and leave without washing their hands. I think things will be different now.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

Not really towards my own, but I do realise that other people could be at a higher risk with underlying conditions, so I tend to be extra careful for the sake of others around me. I would go the extra mile to ensure everyone's safety.

Declan Wilson hosts Q Radio Breakfast from 6am-10am every weekday.

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