At home with Chelsea Norris - Offerton's radio star
PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 April 2017
Radio presenter Chelsea Norris was axed from Key 103 after 11 years but now she's back. Janet Reeder hears why her new job at the BBC has come at the best time.
The timing couldn’t be better for Chelsea Norris to take over the mid-afternoon slot on BBC Radio Manchester.
Not only does it mean she can ditch the 4am starts required for her previous early morning show, but the Offerton-based presenter has come on board just as BBC Radio Manchester has recorded its highest audience figures in over a decade.
The station can even boast Jesus as a listener... Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus to be precise, who recently revealed he listens to BBC Radio Manchester to help him learn English.
‘It’s a great time to join,’ agrees Chelsea, as she relaxes in the stylish home she shares with her husband Ben Postma-Tonge, one-year-old daughter Minnie, and their cockapoo, Teddy.
‘But because I’ve always worked with someone else in the past, it’s a bit like being in a band and then going solo. I love to talk, so there’s going to be a few more guests than in the past and we’re going to have a lot more interactivity.’
It’s a happy turn of events for Chelsea who was unceremoniously axed by Key 103 after 11 years of sharing presenting duties with Mike Toolan on the breakfast show. The internet makes it possible to listen to the moment she made the announcement she was leaving the station and you can hear the heartbreak in her voice.
‘They just felt that the show wasn’t working and that it was time for the change,’ she explains.
‘But I do wear my heart on my sleeve and after it happened I had people coming up to me in the street saying they’d never listen to the show again.’
These were the people who had grown up listening to her every morning and were familiar with all the intimacies of her life, from the breakdown of her first marriage, to meeting Ben and having a baby.
‘Women would write to me and say they were devastated that their marriage had come to an end but when they heard me talk about my separation on air they thought “If Chelsea can carry on, so can I”.’
The aftermath of being axed was, she admits, one of the worst times of her life. ‘I couldn’t have got through it without Ben,’ she confesses.
Ben is a 30-year-old fitness instructor of Dutch heritage, hence the unusual surname, who Chelsea met about four years ago not long after she separated from her first husband.
‘I met him very quickly after wards,’ she reveals.
I had been through a particularly difficult marriage and the end was dreadful. Where some people might turn to drink or drugs Ben made me feel really good about myself.
‘My mum didn’t like it. She thought it was way too fast and that I was going to get hurt but he just made me smile and that was my drug. I liked it.
‘One of my best friends, Steph, has had a massive weight loss journey - she’s lost about 15 stone and one of the ways she did it was to go to the gym where Ben works . They used to get on quite well and when it was her birthday in the May, I remember her ringing me and saying “Are you coming out?” and I said I couldn’t face it. As a really good friend will do, she said “I’ll be there in 20 minutes. Get your black dress on!” And I did. She picked me up at the front door and Ben was in the car. That was the first night I met him and then we had some nights out a few months later and we just hit it off really quickly.’
The pair married last November, choosing Dubai for the ceremony and then the Maldives for a blessing and honeymoon.
‘We really wanted it to be all about us,’ says Chelsea. ‘I think sometimes when you get married you end up doing everything for other people and you never please yourself. At the end of the day it costs you a fortune so we said we’d save and go on a fabulous holiday! Some people might think that’s a bit selfish but that’s what we did.’
Although they enjoy nights out, it’s clear the couple love their home life. The house, which they moved into around two years ago, is thoughtfully decorated without looking like a stage set - or should that be ‘stag’ set? Chelsea admits there does seem to be a stag theme, from the antlered head on the kitchen walls to the decor on their china mugs.
The house was built in 1932 and has been transformed with an extension built by a friend from CJS of Hazel Grove. They had some help from a friend, Gemma Schofield, wife of Sale Sharks’ Dean Schofield, who runs a prestigious Wilmslow-based interiors company called GB Homes UK.
‘You know how sometimes you lose your way a bit? We’d really lost our way,’ declares Chelsea.
‘Gemma’s really helped us. Given us ideas and then you just pick up on things. We enjoy going to a place called The Hollies in Tarporley. It’s basically a farm shop. It was originally a farm but they opened this beautiful deli and it started to do really well. Then they converted the barn into a gift shop and then had some camping areas and built Yurts. Now they’ve got an entire cul-de-sac of log cabins and they’re stunning. Well, we go in there for inspiration - they’ve got stag heads and check wool carpet,’ she laughs.
‘You always get ideas when you go somewhere and we always like to buy a little something from wherever we go. We do enjoy the house and Ben is well into decor. It’s nice to have a man who cares about what’s around.’
We love Piccolino’s in Bramhall. All the staff know us and they just take Minnie off me- they all speak Italian to her saying ‘ciao, bella - which is really cute’ and if we’re going out in Manchester it ends to Spinningfields and Artisan and Australasia.
We often go to church in Wilmslow - St Bartholomew’s which is where Minnie was christened and then have a walk around Wilmslow and have breakfast there.
Bramhall Park is a lovely place and there’s a place called Happy Valley which is really cute.
We really enjoy going to the Hollies Farm Shop in Tarporley
Chelsea’s new drive-time show is on BBC Manchester from 3pm weekdays. For further information visit www.bbc.co.uk