• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Trisha Goddard: My family values


The TV presenter talks about the influence of the man she knew as her father, then finding out he wasn’t, and the death of her youngest sister, who suffered from mental illness

I don’t know who my biological father is or whether he is alive. I was, until 2004, under the impression that I was the daughter of my mum, who was Dominican, and her husband, who was white British from Norfolk – the man I knew as my dad. I always had my doubts about my background: my skin colour was darker than my three younger sisters.

My mum died in 2004, and then my dad told my [third] husband, Peter, the truth about my background, that Dad was led to believe I was his daughter, and didn’t know until my mother admitted that another man was my dad. This was when I was about three months old. I think he was too scared to tell me himself. I’ve since had a heritage DNA test, which shows I am also 9% Asian, which implies that my biological father was West Indian too.

We moved around a lot when I was young. When I was six, we moved to east Africa for almost three years, as my dad was working as a psychiatric nurse and got a position there. I was schooled in an expat community where you learned that everyone was the same, despite being different nationalities and skin colour. I think it helped me embrace moving round the world later in my life for work.

 My dad was a brilliant role model for social values, social fairness and giving me a healthy work ethic. My mum, who also had a very strong work ethic, having come to Britain to make a new life, taught me that as a person of colour I had to be twice as good to be seen as half as good.

 When I was living in Australia and had just started working as a news anchor, my youngest sister, Linda, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, died from complications arising from self-inflicted injuries. It was a devastating loss. It made me want to speak out for those who suffer from mental illness. Before that, I hadn’t really felt any maternal urges – after, becoming a mum became important. I was living with my second husband to be, Mark, and we had two daughters together. It sounds corny but the moment I held my daughter Billie was the first time I felt dizzying amounts of love for anyone.

 My marriage to Peter is a partnership. We learn from each other all the time. True intimacy is about honest communication, listening and compromise. Throw in friendship as a cornerstone, laughter and the ability to be playful, and it’s a match made in realistic heaven.

 Being diagnosed and treated successfully for breast cancer brought our family together. Through awful things, good things can come. My daughters were very supportive. My youngest, Madi, used to come running with me, an activity she hated, and my eldest sat with me in the hospital while I was having treatment and studied for her A-levels. Peter was my No 1 supporter of course. He helped me still be a mum and do the important mum things that I wanted to do even when unwell. That whole year of my cancer treatment felt like a very powerful, emotional bonding experience.

 I don’t really want to be a granny yet. I think that is vanity – I don’t want to think I am that old! No doubt when the grandchildren do arrive, I will do my best to whip them away from my daughters and spoil them terribly.