Podcaster, presenter, actress, author, wife, and mother-of-three Giovanna Fletcher, 38, speaks to Suzanne Baum having just completed a trek of more than 100km across the French Alps to raise money for breast cancer charity CoppaFeel!
You’ve recently returned from the CoppaFeel! trek; what has it been like returning home?
Giovanna Fletcher: ‘Seeing my family of course is amazing but the biggest relief has been taking off my walking boots. And most importantly ensuring all the 130 trekkers who joined me on the walk are ok. I feel this is probably the hardest time for them, even though the trek in itself was pretty hard-core. The adrenaline and preparation leading up to the trek is exciting, and then we have five days of the most exhilarating climb, but I’m aware now that it is over, and we’ve returned back to normal life, it can prove a bit difficult for the team.
‘There is the sense of achievement, the memories and the wonderful friendships made, but I’m also aware a lot of them are touched by breast cancer in one way or another and I want to continue to support them now we are back home.’
How do you prepare yourself mentally and physically for the trek?
‘It brings up so many emotions when you walk side by side with other women and men affected by cancer, and I don’t want to be the one puffing and out of breath when I walk and talk alongside them so I do have to be fairly fit to embark on it.
‘When it comes to training for it, I always do a lot of walking, cardio, running and boxing. And to be honest running around after the kids involves a lot of fitness as they’ve got me racing around doing football in the garden, playing tag and so on so I never have a second when I am not moving.
‘As for my mental health, I have always been one to talk openly and be a good listener and when you are outdoors and trekking in such beautiful surroundings, it helps gets me in the right mindset. The treks are all about showing people you don’t have to be alone.
‘Creating spaces where people can lean in and listen is the best way we can help support one another. And the French Alps in Mont Blanc proved the perfect backdrop.
‘You can’t train for everything though as the beauty of these treks is often the unknown, so the altitude we faced up a mountain, for example, is not something you can prepare your body for in the UK. We were so high at one point, it wasn’t just my head and thighs wobbling, but my bladder too!’
As someone who has a number one podcast, when you walk do you tend to listen to them yourself?
‘Definitely not on the treks as we have each other to talk to. I used to walk and listen to podcasts when at home but recently read it is so important to be in the now, the present moment, and not to listen to anything. Apparently, being in nature and hearing things like the trees rustling is good for us so I’m going to try and do more of that.’
On that note, being outdoors all the time, did you come up against any challenges?
‘Not really as when you are surrounded by a group of people who have one thing in common – that being a fight against breast cancer – you just appreciate everything you have in life. Yes, the desert and mountains can prove hard to navigate sometimes but honestly, it just makes you feel happy to be alive. It was gruelling walking so much but so exhilarating at the same time.’
You always seem to have so much energy, how do you juggle it all?
‘It’s the same with every working mum, we just try and do our best. If I work out in the morning it gives me energy to get through the day as come the evening, there is just too much to do to fit in any time for exercise. I also don’t deny myself any foods, I like to eat everything in moderation. I need to eat to fuel myself as I am always on the go.’
You have had a very successful career so far. What is your favourite part of the job?
‘I have always loved writing books. In fact, my advice to anyone who asks me about a career in writing is to just try and do it. Start off just putting words onto paper and see how it flows. Don’t feel so confined in what you do as a job, try out different things and see what works.
‘I’ve also loved doing my podcast Happy Mum, Happy Baby as I get to speak to such amazing people and guests tend to open up much more as podcasts enable a longer format, so we have time to expand on things. I’ve had such amazing guests but one that sticks out to me is Angela Scanlon as we just roared with laughter and it was a hilarious recording.’
With such a large social media platform and following, do you ever find it difficult being in the public eye?
‘I laugh at the fact people think I’m a celebrity as to be honest I don’t see myself as one; Tom and I have always stayed grounded and level headed. We met at the Sylvia Young Theatre School and I think there you learn never to get too big for your boots and just to be yourself. That is how I have always been.’
You are preparing to soon join the UK tour of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. How excited are you for that?
‘I am beyond excited as I love the show and my character Miss Hedge is such a fun and ballsy woman – I can’t wait to step into her shoes. The story is a universal tale of courage and acceptance, and one I can’t wait to help bring to life.
‘And that brings me back to the CoppaFeel! trek, which I just love and feel so proud to be a part of; courageous women and men taking on a huge climb and opening up their hearts. There is something really healing about people supporting one another, sharing stories and celebrating being alive. That is what I love most about my job: having this incredible opportunity to bring amazing people together to raise money for such a vital charity. It makes me appreciate everything.’
Giovanna Fletcher completed the ‘CoppaTrek! with Gi’ in Mont Blanc, France, in September to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer charity CoppaFeel!. To donate, visit coppatrek-mont-blanc.coppafeel.org
Words: Suzanne Baum. Photography: Marco Barcella, The Creative.
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