TV presenter Vanessa Feltz on ‘tidal wave’ of support received following recent breakup
Vanessa Feltz said she’s received an “incredible tidal wave of support” following her recent breakup.
The TalkTV presenter – who revealed at the beginning of February that she and former fiancé Ben Ofoedu had split after 16 years together, after Ofoedu admitted cheating – said the “amazing” messages have made her feel less alone.
“I’ve recently been through a horrible romantic breakup, and I’ve had almost everyone – I mean obviously my daughters, my family, my friends – reach out to me in this incredible wave of support. I’ve also heard from, I’m not joking, thousands of women who’ve sent me DMs to my Instagram, telling me their own stories, sending me support, bigging me up.
“It’s been incredible, and every night I try to reply, and more and more messages just flood in,” said Feltz, 61, who has just been announced as a judge on the 2023 Pour Moi Uplifting Women Awards.
“I’ve heard from nearly every famous woman in the country and they have been lovely. Denise Van Outen has been absolutely amazing, Myleene Klass has been staunch – she has been in my camp, helping me, supporting me, she’s just been superb. Claire Sweeney has been amazing. Rylan [Clark] has been superb, [and] Zoe Ball.
“So many women have shown this incredible empathy and love – and it makes a big difference, you don’t feel so alone. Literally, physically, I am alone – I’m in an empty house, it’s lonely.
“I don’t like being single, it’s not my thing and it doesn’t suit my personality at all – and that’s a scary prospect. But when your girls reach out from everywhere, and all the other ladies I don’t actually know yet but wish I did, it’s absolutely incredible.
“I’m right in the thick of it right now. It’s been seven weeks, so it’s all very new and horrible and heartbreaking, and I’ve been really privileged to have this absolute tidal wave of support.”
Feltz, who hosted shows on Radio 2 and BBC Radio London for nearly 20 years before moving on last summer, said she’s “delighted” to be involved with the Pour Moi Uplifting Women Awards, celebrating the achievements of women across the UK over a range of categories – including Charitable Champion, Extraordinary Entrepreneur and Inspiring Woman, with a £5,000 cash prize for each winner up for grabs.
“I’m very keen on anything that shows sisterly solidarity and bigs women up and takes us out of that imposter syndrome thing – where you always feel you’re not good enough at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing.
“I’ve got two daughters and two granddaughters, and I want every pathway to be open to them,” added the TV personality, who has two grown-up daughters – Allegra Benitah and Saskia Joss (who each have two children of their own) – from her former marriage to surgeon Michael Kurer.
“I want them to be confident, I want them to feel there’s nothing they can’t do, nothing they shouldn’t do, and that there’s a world of support behind them. So I’m very pleased to help create role models, I think it’s a very important thing to do.”
Reflecting on how things have changed for women, Feltz said: “I come from an era where, I was born in 1962 – I was under colossal pressure from my parents to get married, as if that was the sole goal – once you achieve that, you’d achieved life.
“Now it seems almost ridiculous to think anyone could ever believe that. But when you think this is the way novels ended – you know, ‘Reader, I married him’. If you read Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, [Charles] Dickens – whatever you read really, it ends with ‘and then I married him… And we lived happily ever after’ – and my parents really pushed me along similar lines.
“I read English literature at Cambridge, but all they really cared about was, was I getting married? And then I did get married, to a junior hospital doctor [Kurer] that my grandma chose.”
Feltz said she only started working as a journalist to help with the bills in the early days of the marriage. “It was earning a bit of money, it wasn’t even meant to be a thing, nobody took it seriously. When I started appearing on the radio, all my parents said was, ‘How does your husband feel about that?’
“Can you imagine that now? Nobody said, ‘Wow, you were really good at it’, or ‘Gosh, this could be a career for you’. Everyone said, ‘But what about your husband, does he mind that?’”
Feltz – who has won a number of awards for her broadcasting success, including a Sony Gold in 2009 and two Gold Gillard Awards – said these experiences have made her a staunch supporter of other women.
It’s also why “I’m all about giving it a whirl – whatever it is,” she added, while acknowledging experiencing feelings of doubt can be “valid” too.
“The voice in our head that says, ‘Oh god, who are you to do that?’ – all the ‘you better not do it’ things, which I think comes partly from the way you were brought up… All those feelings are valid, because it’s quite right that we don’t just think we’re the king and queen of every single thing we do before we’ve even tried it,” she said.
“But I think it’s a terrible shame if you live a life feeling inadequate, before you’ve even given yourself a chance to try something. Because sometimes it’s just a complete surprise that you feel completely comfortable doing something you’ve never done before – and then it’s kind of amazing.”
Nominations for the Pour Moi Uplifting Women Awards are open now until April 5, with the awards set to take place on May 18. To nominate yourself or someone else, visit pourmoi.co.uk/upliftingwomennominate
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox