How Wilmslow and the North won over TV presenter Clare Nasir and Chris Hawkins
PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 May 2013 | UPDATED: 19:18 24 October 2015
Words by Janet Reeder photography by Kirsty Thompson
It was reputedly long faces all around when a move up north was announced to media folk used to a life in London. But for Clare Nasir and husband Chris Hawkins, last year’s BBC relocation to Salford turned into a golden opportunity.
In just under a year, the move to MediaCity UK paid off for the pair. Not only do they now have a stunning family home in Wilmslow, which their three-and-a- half year old daughter Sienna adores, but their careers have taken off in thrilling directions.
Clare, who gained fame as a GMTV weather girl and Chris as presenter of the Early Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 6 Music, admit that leaving their Georgian town house in Islington wasn’t in their masterplan.
Says Chris: ‘It was proposed by my boss at the BBC that I move here. I was given a good long time to think about whether that would work for us and it’s paid dividends. It’s been one of the best possible moves. But it is not an idea we would have had independently. We would not on any one day have thought “Shall we move to Manchester?”
‘We decided we were going to make this a proper move because colleagues of mine had done all manner of different things from commuting to renting to flat and house sharing.’
Adds Clare: ‘We had to make an emotional move so that we had a sense we had a home rather than a transitional period of our lives.’
In fact what Clare and Chris have discovered is that they can have the best of both worlds. Clare’s meteorological and science background made her the perfect presenter for the CBBC programme Fierce Earth a show that has taken her around the globe, she has blog in the Huffington post and is currently writing a novel. Chris has the top radio slot on Radio 6 as well as a career as a producer and music expert. And both are ambassadors for the Prince’s Trust.
Friends such as presenter Penny Smith and MP Gloria De Piero have been to stay and the actor Craig Charles just lives around the corner.
‘We went to dinner at Serafina and the owner drove us home. You don’t get that in London,’ revealed Clare.
‘I still commute to London, which is one of the reasons I chose Wilmslow because it’s got a great commuter route and even though I only work part-time there, it is lovely to have two centres. This life up here is just so open-air – we cycle, or stroll to country pubs and then we get a real blast of capital life. So I don’t have a sense that I miss London at all. Though I have to say the train route down there is ridiculously expensive!’
The couple knew around six months in advance they would be heading north and so began to do the rounds of the property hot spots.
‘We started making trips up to this part of the world but we were also looking at Hale, Didsbury, and Chorlton , places lots of BBC people have moved to,’ says Chris.
‘But my best man lives here in Wilmslow and we came to look around. He said he knew someone who was building a house and this was that house.
‘It was just superior to anything we saw,’ explains Clare of the three bedroom house built by family company Henderson Homes who celebrate their 60th anniversary this year.
‘We saw the plans and it was a building site but having lived in a house that was 150 years old in London it was a chance to be in somewhere in complete contrast to where we were before.
‘And we were able to re-draw the plans to suit what we needed, so this whole area at the back is a garden room. We needed a play area for Sienna and I needed an office so we created office space with a window looking out onto her play area which is brilliant and the garden studio outside which is Chris’s studio which we couldn’t have had in other places.’
The couple who met eight years ago when they were introduced to each other through Jamie Cullum’s agent in a bar prefer a laid-back life at home and it shows in the style which was created by local interior designer Alex Egan of Stanza Style.
‘She has this ability to just look at the house and interpret what you want to budget,’ says Clare.
‘She knew we wanted a maritime coastal feel in the kitchen area and something warmer in the living room, where we have gone for a Moroccan theme. We wanted Sienna to have a magical bedroom that is girlie, but not too girlie.’
Pictures on the wall include pop stars such as David Bowie, Chris meeting Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and a montage of Islington where they used to live. It all adds a very personal touch to the place they can now honestly call home.
Henderson Homes: 01565 832 786 www.hendersonhomes.co.uk
Stanza Style: 01948 860393 www.stanzastyle.co.uk