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Kimberley Walsh On Having A Thick Skin From A Young Age, And How Singing Still Brings Her Joy

When you’ve been doing something as a job from a young age, it’s easy to imagine the amount of joy you get from it would wear off after time. But that’s certainly not been the case for Kimberley Walsh.

“Singing is something that will always make me feel happy, and be a release,” says the former Girls Aloud star, 40. “Even if it’s just me singing to myself in the car, that can be quite a powerful way of having a bit of me-time and resetting.”

While she admits “not all singers sing for themselves”, Walsh has “always been one of those singers who literally loved to sing, 24 hours a day.

I’m usually getting told to shut up by the rest of my family members – and it was no different as a child, growing up with my brother and sisters – and now it’s just changed to my kids. I get so much enjoyment out of it, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change.”

Unsurprisingly, Walsh comes from a musical family. Growing up West Yorkshire, her mother, aunt and grandmother all played instruments, and her father sang in a band.

“I was one of four siblings, and all four of us were into the arts – there was a lot of putting on shows before school, and we all went to stage school,” she explains. “It was very much a von Trapp set-up.”

According to Walsh, the arts made a huge difference in her life. “I was actually quite a shy child and quite reserved,” she remembers. “I think when I was singing, dancing or performing, that was the only time I really wasn’t [shy] at all.

As I grew up, that confidence helped me become a bit more outspoken in general life too. It helped me massively – I can’t really imagine my upbringing without it.”

She did acting from a young age, and entered Popstars: The Rivals in her early-20s, where Girls Aloud was formed.

While she suggests being in professional settings and getting turned down from auditions can be “quite challenging for a child”, she says: “I was quite a laid-back child, my general nature was chilled out.

I think I took it in my stride and was able to take it for what it was and enjoy the experience.” She concedes you have to be very thick-skinned, but adds: “I was the right character for that type of thing.”

Now, Walsh is a mother herself – to Bobby, seven, Cole, five, and one-year-old Nate – with husband and former boyband member Justin Scott. The older two are showing signs of being musical.

“You feel relieved when you realise they can sing in tune and they can dance – I was hoping for that!” Walsh quips.

The family recently celebrated Nate’s first birthday, and Walsh has been reflecting on the year that’s passed. “It’s actually been really nice, because I’ve got a bigger age gap between my second and third,” she muses.

“It’s been helpful because they [her older two] help entertain him. They’re so excited by every little milestone he does, which is lovely to see.

“It’s not been as hard as I thought it would be – I think it was harder going from one to two, because there was a small gap between them – only two years.

So I felt like I had two babies for a while. Also, I’m not planning to have any more, so I think I’m just enjoying every stage – you want to soak it all up.”

Walsh with her husband Justin Scott
Walsh with her husband Justin Scott (Ian West/PA)

Now Nate is a bit older, Walsh has a bit more time for herself – and that means getting back to her fitness routine. Other than singing, she suggests exercise is the best thing she does for her mental health.

“Exercise massively helps,” she admits. “If I can incorporate some kind of dance, I think it has a really positive effect on me.” She says the endorphins of dance can be “quite uplifting – it’s definitely a good one for the mind”.

She also does weighted routines – “rather than full-on HIIT or cardio, I feel like I get that already from running around after the three boys”.

Things are starting to settle down for the busy mum, which she’s happy about. “I feel like I’ve got a bit of balance now,” Walsh reflects. “I’m able to get back to work, and also be around for the boys – it’s about getting the right balance.”

Kimberley Walsh is working with Sky Arts to launch the ‘Arts RDA’ for the Access All Arts programme.