TV's Melissa Porter - why I'm back home in Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 00:01 22 April 2014
TV presenter Melissa Porter has led a hectic life in London for years. But recent ups and downs have brought her back home to Disley. With her characteristic charm, she reveals what's been going on
To coin an Arnold Schwarzenegger phrase and ad lib a little: I never thought I’d be back.
I consider myself a bubbly county girl (in fact more accurately I’m an inquisitive middle-aged woman, but positivity is one of my virtues). I’ve lived the first half of my life in and around Cheshire and the second in and around London - with a slice of Greenwich Connecticut slapped right through the middle. The memory of this latter part induces heartburn...it’s a long story!
A geographical life plan has never featured on my vision board. My belief is we carry our homes in our hearts so I’ve moved instinctively, following my work. Likely this helped me feel grounded as I unintentionally embarked on my semi-nomadic North meets South lifestyle. I observed a pattern: many of my peers chose to stay close to family once the apron ties had been cut. For me, any association with aprons and cooking brings me out in a cold sweat and I was lured by the wonderment of work and the bright lights of life. For this I felt only the big smoke could satisfy me.
Despite shipping out to London aged 20 something, I love my family and the M40/M6 is a road well-travelled by me. I’m a skinny chai latte fiend and also terribly punctual so my route is well documented with Starbucks loyalty stamps and one too many speeding fines. Most weekends saw me jumping into my car of the moment, packing like I was travelling for a month and zipping back to visit my family in Cheshire.
Variety is my spice of life and I would change my travel route, simply to make me smile. One time I might leave the M6 at Holmes Chapel and pretend I was a racing driver while manoeuvring the meandering roads. Another weekend I might pick Knutsford as my exit point, greedily soaking up the decadent Mere architecture. Sometimes to mix it all up I’d zip past Goostrey, simply to cop a glimpse of the glorious Jodrell Bank arching itself towards our solar system. With my favourite tunes swirling out around me and the familiar illuminated road signs whizzing past, my Cheshire road trips seemed more theatre than necessity.
But last year my trips took on a sad note as my brave father Aldo passed away from cancer. His life expectancy was six plus weeks. So it was with very heavy hearts that we laid him to rest in delightful Disley, a magnificent year later than expected. Cheshire was his Las Vegas, in fact in Superhero tribute, it was his metropolis. He bought houses in the county, created car dealerships, sold cars and forged lifelong friendships. It was here he fell in love and then married my beautiful mother, Mary, in the Stanneylands hotel in Styal.
It was in this county that the roots of our family’s heritage were laid and embedded for eternity. I guess he lived, loved and laughed his way around Cheshire and while he was born in Italy, he always considered his home on Hough Lane in Wilmslow, to be his spiritual home.
Just two months after we laid my father to rest, another sad blow struck our family. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her Disley community of friends and neighbours have lovingly provided support that we as a family will be eternally grateful for. More recently she began the gruelling chemotherapy journey, and without the hand of my father that she had held for 45 years, as you might imagine, life was feeling very lonely indeed for her.
So Pierce and I are home. We’re back to Cheshire. For the moment, we’re here to hold Mum’s hand in the absence of my father’s being available. We’re here to love and to all laugh in the face of her adversity. The Macmillan staff at Macclesfield hospital have been incredible. Their patience and qualities are exceptional. I am humbled by my gratitude to them for helping my parents at every juncture of their emotionally charged journeys.
Pierce is enrolled in a delightful Wilmslow nursery and we’ll be sure to say hello to you at the many kids’ classes he and I will frequent. We have already visited some of Cheshire’s fabulous horse-riding stables but, alas, at 3 ¼ he’s a tad young for his first equestrian experience.
I have meetings set up with the BBC to broadcast a show yours truly created and I fancy a little bit of acting, so watch this space. Plus, I have my eye on a juicy development project and I’m excited to search out the finest home purveyors Cheshire has to offer.
Will I miss London? Heck yes, I love my friends there. But right now my eye is firmly on my goal: Pierce and I are home to Cheshire to hold my mum’s hand. Unlike Arnie, who I’ll bet wished he’d stuck to handholding.
More about Melissa
Melissa graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 1996.
Her first jobs were in marketing at Kodak and Timberland.
She borrowed 10k from her dad on condition it was repaid with interest within a year. She began buying and selling homes, importing cameras from China and selling tham as part of wedding packages.
While working for a Knightsbridge property company a production firm called her boss looking for someone to do their ‘real’ job on telly. The boss suggested Melissa. Soon she began working on the BBC’s prime time show, Get a new life.
While filming shows including the BBC’s Escape to the country, BBC Country file and GMTV she set up an interiors company with her best pal: Porter & Smurfit.