With her husband Derek Draper still in hospital after contracting coronavirus in March, Kate Garraway tells Woman’s Own columnist Richard Arnold how she and their children are coping.
Hi Kate. How is Derek?
It’s just a roller coaster, really, Richard. There are things that have improved and other things that have come into play and caused a problem. It’s a long, slow recovery. I think if I look back three months, then yes, things are better, but the thing is that because this is a new disease, a new virus, nobody has experience of the full impact of it – either medically or in real life. There are few people who have been as dramatically affected as Derek and survived, so he is very lucky to be alive. It’s really just about getting incredible care from the doctors and hoping that the tide will turn.
How are the family?
It’s tough. It’s a long time to be separated from a parent you love. If your dad was working abroad and you couldn’t see him in that time, and you couldn’t FaceTime or call, then that would feel like a very long time, plus children’s sense of time is different. I remember as a child it being February and feeling like Christmas was a lifetime away. Now, at my age, it happens in the blink of an eye – but for them it’s a seriously long time. So many big things have happened – Bill, 11, has started secondary school and Darcey, 14, her GSCEs. There’s a continual sadness and worry, and not really knowing what to deal with.
Everyone is proud of their kids, but you must marvel at them!
They are absolutely extraordinary and they are doing remarkably well. There are tough times still to come and Christmas is going to be a big challenge, but they are doing amazingly and have just tried to get on with it in their own ways. They also keep me going. It forces me not to go into a ball in the corner, [it’s always,] ‘Let’s get the tea on, let’s sort out the homework.’ It forces you to keep going.
We have both said over the last 20 years that work can be a sanctuary…
We are very lucky that we love what we do and are lucky to have the jobs we have. It gives you a sense of purpose outside yourself. The show gives me the chance to make the connection, to make people smile. The viewers have been so kind. I got a lovely, cosy knitted blanket the other day. And I’m a knitter, Richard, so I know how much effort it takes.
You, a knitter! Well, that explains some of your party outfits…
You were lucky! I love crochet as well and for Christmas 1998 everybody in the family got crocheted presents. We met in 2000 so you just escaped. But the gifts from viewers are a wonderful sign of people wanting to reach out and that’s been one of the positives about this pandemic. In the worst of times, we’ve seen some wonderful gestures. That’s the lovely thing about being on telly – you’re never lonely.
It sounds like you’ve drawn a lot of strength from that support. People have been in awe of you.
There have been moments when it has been unbearable and times when people say how well you are coping, but what’s the alternative? I think, as well, I still have a lot of hope and pouring energy into hope helps keep the despair away. I see bravery every day. The nurses and doctors work with the ridges in their skin from the PPE.