In this month’s issue of TrendLife Magazine, we talk to E4’s ‘Celebs Go Dating’ celebrity dating agent Anna Williamson about mental health issues and her new book.
Anna, you have been endearingly open with your own mental health difficulties. When did you first experience anxiety?
I was a young, 25 years old professional girl presenting kids TV programmes for ITV and suddenly I was faced with my first emotional breakdown. Looking back, the trigger was a lot of people-pleasing and a lot of stress which I hadn’t noticed building up. I just hadn’t seen the triggers and you really don’t the first time.
I hadn’t seen what was unravelling because I couldn’t identify with what I was feeling because no one had talked to me about mental health at that point and I was also in a controlling relationship with a guy all at the same time.
Talking about the media, how do you feel about how mental health is portrayed in the media currently?
I have definitely noticed a more positive attitude towards mental health within the media recently. I think the media are starting to understand the importance of open discussion and not just sensationalising incidents with attention-grabbing headlines.
In the past, any mental health issue carried a label that came with really negative consequences. I think we are seeing a little less of that now and I think people are starting to understand and respect the fact that we all have mental health issues. We now understand there are many different points on the spectrum, like physical health; from a common cold to a quadruple heart bypass, it’s the same for mental health. Low-level stress can lead to something really quite significant and life changing. The whole point is to normalise it.
Support for mental health in the work place is something you are passionate about; what services do you think could improve the quality of support given to those finding things difficult at work?
I also think companies are getting on board now. It is really great to see as I have been asked to deliver keynote speeches on this topic for big companies across Hertfordshire. Employers and employees are understanding the importance of support because everybody wins when you understand it.
Early intervention is absolutely key, it is being able to know who to talk to in your work place, having the relevant structure in place for support like talking therapies, that way hopefully, the support catches people before they end up being signed off with long term mental health sickness where nobody wins.
I think the main thing for employers to be aware of is that they need to take the relevant training to be able to understand, handle and support anyone who is working with them.
Referring to your previous publications; Breaking Mum and Dad, post-natal mental health for both mums and dads is a real issue affecting relationships and bonds. What are your thoughts on this?
Post-natal mental health is something that is just starting to gain a little bit of the spotlight with people starting to understand how fundamentally important but flawed the help is in this country. So much emphasis is placed on the three trimesters, through pregnancy to giving birth, but there is now this new fabled fourth trimester, which is starting to get a lot more headlines, and that is the three months after you have given birth.
To be honest, it is much longer than 3 months. My experiences were that I had perinatal anxiety and had a previous anxiety condition.
There was very little support for me as I went through my pregnancy and then coupled with a pretty rubbish birth; the fall out I had after having my son was off the scale. I was diagnosed with very severe post-natal anxiety and PTSD. I feel very strongly that both mums and dads are given as much support as they need in those early few weeks and months after having a baby, because it is absolutely life changing for everybody.
Do you think there is enough support out there for new parents and help for expecting parents to understand the realities of those early months into mother and fatherhood?
No, I don’t think there is enough support. I think there is access to support if you know where to look, but the whole point is knowing where to look in the first place. And I think particularly for first time parents; how do you know what you are looking for if you don’t know it exists and you don’t know what might happen?
There is a very fine line between implanting something in someone’s mind that may never happen; you don’t want to scaremonger someone that may never ever have to go down that route.
I think particularly when it comes to antenatal classes, there needs to be a lot more emphasis placed on the postnatal period and how both mum and dad might be feeling in that time and what help is accessible to them.
Too many parents struggling in those months after birth. The fact that statistics coming through show that the biggest cause of death in new mothers is suicide and that is something we really need to take notice of.
Loss of confidence is a huge issue many mums face when trying to return to work. What advice would you give a mother who feels held back by her confidence?
I would say the first thing to remember being a parent is a full-time job and like most jobs, they are very demanding. For any parent experiencing a lack of confidence when it comes to returning to work, understand you are absolutely not the first but part of a majority of mothers who experience this.
Coming out of the baby bubble can be a huge culture shock when you return to work because you will be slightly different from how you had been before.
You are now a mother, and that will carry with it all kinds of feelings, from worrying about how your baby is, if they are in childcare, worrying if you can do your job well still, and what I would say to any mother going back to work is, I’ve been there and all of my friends have to, just be kind to yourself.
You don’t have to be superwoman; you really don’t, because actually you already are because you are being a working mum!
What are your thoughts on millennials being considered an anxious generation and mental health concerns being at an all-time high? Would you associate social media with this?
Yes, I really do, I think it is no coincidence that the digital age has kicked straight in with millennials statistics on the increase suffering with mental health concerns and challenges.
I think we have to be really aware of that, social media is a big thing, it’s never going to go away, we have all have social media, which is great, but the important thing to remember is to just have this life balance; life, phone, social media, work balance.
And what I cannot promote enough is taking time off of it every day; and meeting people in real life, face to face. Life is all about balance, what we eat, what we do, where we go, everything is about balance.
More so for millennials, social media can feel all-consuming and it is all consuming to a point, but always remember you have a choice, you are in control of how much you use it.
Do yourself a favour and don’t use it 24/7. Give yourself a decent balance where you actually get out and do other things that don’t involve being on a device.
It’s been great watching you work with the celebs in “celebs go dating”. Have you found a difference with working with the public and celebrities; are they more challenging and have a few more issues from being in front of the camera compared to the general public?
The celebrities that come to me when they come into the agency, they are just people. There is no difference to me; the celebrities or Joe Bloggs, the only differing factor is that they come with this layer of being a “celebrity”, and what does that mean? Well that comes with the fact that people have a preconception of you, and that can be more challenging.
So, what we have found with all of our celebrities is that often their self-confidence and self-esteem is extremely challenged. People might not believe that because they see these very ballsy and energetic confident people on their TV screens, but when you take away that, and put them in what I would call and everyday scenario, you just see a person.
Dating is all about being your true self; so stripping away that level of celebrity, is initially really daunting to them. But when they come through the agency for tips, tricks, techniques; the dressing downs we give them are exactly what we would give to everybody. I do find they come in a bit more feisty and fiery than perhaps Joe public.
It’s their shield and that’s what they are known for; that’s the reason they are on the telly, because they are entertaining and they have often got very good personalities. It means they are great fun to work with and it’s a real pleasure and honour to be able to get into their heads and for them to trust us to help them.
Horwood House Unveils New Manor Suites In Grade-II Manor House
Once the birthplace of renowned TV gardener Percy Thrower, the historic Grade-II listed Manor House at idyllic countryside hotel Horwood House has unveiled three fully refurbished Manor Suites. The latest milestone in an extensive £6 million, 18-month redevelopment programme, the new look suites draw on the rich horticultural heritage of the 110-year-old property, which is set within 38 acres of stunning gardens and grounds.
Horwood House Histrory
Originally a farmhouse (some 300 years ago), the Manor House was upgraded in the early 1900s by Frederick Denny, and his original commission design played an integral part in the refurbishment. Lovingly restored to showcase and celebrate the building’s original features, the three master suites are all located on the Manor’s top floor. After ascending the original and fully restored feature staircase – complete with a showstopping three-tier custom made chandelier, inspired by the traditional 19th century heritage lighting found in many stately homes.
Guests will be greeted by features from the original Manor House such as reconditioned vaulted ceilings, original stonework and grand bay windows synonymous with the Jacobethan era, which were originally designed by well-known architect Detmar Blow over 100 years ago!
Changes at Horwood House
The Denny family alongside their Head Gardener, (Percy Thrower’s father) took immense pride in rebuilding the gardens to the glorious scenes present today. When designing the rooms, it was of utmost importance that the breath-taking grounds took centre stage, with views of the glorious tree-lined drive and the picturesque lily pond, (created by Percy Thrower himself) forming integral parts of each scheme. Both vistas are lit up at night to ensure views at every time of day.
Carefully decorated to ensure guests enjoy a luxurious yet comfortable stay, the suites have each been individually designed but all feature a lounge, a bathroom and a spacious bedroom with luxury king-size beds complete with Art Deco inspired headboards. Plush bay window seating – a perfect spot to enjoy an hour or two of reading – and richly textured soft furnishings are in a colour-scheme selected to complement the hotel’s horticultural setting and offer serenity to those staying – expect light greys, deep greens, subtle teals and warm terracotta hues.
The bathrooms feature eye-catching grey scallop tiles and either a walk-in rainfall shower or bath with gold accents.No amenity or detail has been overlooked, with each suite also featuring a dining table, mini fridge, air-conditioning throughout, complimentary Wi-Fi and a Nespresso coffee machine.
Throughout the suites and into the ground floor of the Manor House, guests will see artwork that explores 1911, the year in which the Manor House was built and the landmark events that mark the period, such as the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, along with the publication of “The Secret Garden” and works by the celebrated poet, D.H. Lawrence.
And that’s not all – the ground floor bar, lounge and ceremony spaces have also been refurbished and offer the perfect backdrop for an early evening drink, afternoon tea with friends or a lavish dinner party in the private Manor library room with carefully curated menus, full of the finest seasonal ingredients, from the hotel’s Executive Chef Will Dimartino.
Booking Horwood House
Looking for a historic, horticultural stay full of rural opulence? The Manor Suites are available to book now, with room rates starting from £249.50 per person (£499 per room) with breakfast included. To book, visit: https://reservations.horwoodhouse.co.uk.
Directions to Horwood House Hotel
St Albans Comedy Extravaganza returns to Verulamium Park in July
St Albans Comedy Garden presented by heycar is set to light up Verulamium Park this summer with a magnificent series of open-air shows from 27-31st July!
Starring legendary BAFTA and Perrier Award winner DYLAN MORAN, the guv’nor himself AL MURRAY, multi-award winning SARA PASCOE, the Last Leg’s ROSIE JONES, Father Ted star ARDAL O’HANLON, lo-fi hero DAVID O’DOHERTY and many more huge names performing at this year’s astounding set of open-air shows.
St Albans Comedy Garden line-up
Stand-up favourites are out in force too with cult poet / comic TIM KEY, German Comedy Ambassador HENNING WEHN, observational master ED BYRNE, Afterlife star KERRY GODLIMAN, Taskmaster champ LOU SANDERS, Edinburgh Comedy Award winner JOHN ROBINS, Netflix star JOEL DOMMETT, the inimitable REGINALD D HUNTER to name a few.
Alongside established names sit some of the brightest breakthrough talent such as the acclaimed CELYA AB, stand-up phenomenon FATIHA EL-GHORRI and the award-winning ESTHER MANITO, fast rising TADIWA MAHLUNGE all making their St Albans debut.
What to expect at St Albans Comedy Garden
Following last summer’s huge sell-out first edition St Albans Comedy Garden returns with another astounding programme of stand-up comedy presented in a fully-seated open-air theatre in the Park’s beautiful Water Meadow.
This year’s comedy extravaganza will once again be brimful with bars serving up a tastemaker selection of craft beers, cocktails and more, plus an array of street-food stalls from the leading lights of the local street food scene.
Tickets are expected to fly as comedy-lovers from St Albans and beyond grab the chance to see these masterfully curated shows, each featuring a host of critically-acclaimed stars guaranteeing a hit of absolute entertainment in the heart of the summer.
The sibling team behind the Comedy Garden, Cass Randolph and Will Briggs of 57 Festivals, can’t wait to return to St Albans. Cass said “We’re thrilled with this year’s line-up and to be back in Verulamium Park, we had such a great first year last summer, the audiences were an absolute riot, far livelier than we had expected! The acts really feed off that kind of energy and in turn give incredible performances.”
Will added “We have some outstanding acts joining us this year, i’m especially looking forward to seeing Dylan Moran headline our opening night and can’t wait to watch stand-out newcomers CELYA AB and FATIHA EL-GHORRI on the big stage.”
This year’s event is partnered with heycar, Chief Commercial Officer Karen Hilton said: “With this year’s Comedy Garden returning to St Albans, it’s shaping up to be an incredible, feel-good summer. We have so much laughter to catch up on after the last few years and I can’t think of a better way to do it. The line-up is truly world-class, and we’re particularly looking forward to seeing the incredible Joel Dommett in action. heycar is honoured to be sponsoring this incredible event and we can’t wait to see everyone in St Albans this July!”
St Albans Comedy Garden tickets
Get your tickets now and be part of this year’s magnificent St Albans Comedy Garden! Visit the website to find out more www.stalbanscomedygarden.co.uk
Blake Kuwahara launches Summer 22 eyewear collection
“After two very long years dealing with the pandemic, we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel” says Blake Kuwahara. “This Spring Collection reflects that hopeful optimism with more color and adventurous shapes”. His design ethos of creating eyewear that is at once artful yet wearable is evident in his signature frame-within-a-frame laminated technique and use of contrasting colors as well as his cast bone motif used in his Grey Label Collection.
Also dropping this Summer will be a limited edition of the now iconic CHAMBERS in a custom Rainbow acetate in honor of PRIDE. “I posted a rendering of the CHAMBERS in rainbow colors on Instagram to celebrate and recognize the LGBTQ Community during PRIDE Month, and it got such an overwhelming response that we decided to produce it!”, says Kuwahara.
“With the lifting of COVID-related restrictions and a pent-up demand, retail is continuing gain traction buoyed by consumer optimism,” says Richard Mewha, President of Fade To Grey, the distributing company for Blake Kuwahara Eyewear.
Blake Kuwahara designs are available from leading independent opticians across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.
Kuwahara, the founder of the multi-disciplinary design agency, Focus Group West, first gained international acclaim as the creator and designer of the exclusive KATA Eyewear brand. His groundbreaking use of engineering and production techniques together with his highly curated eye reinvented the way eyewear design is approached today.
Kuwahara’s bold experimentation and innovation have gained him a following in the fashion media and has been profiled in Vogue, ELLE, Bazaar, GQ, In Style, and Esquire and has been seen on E!, Access Hollywood, MTV, and CNN. Buzzmagazine voted Kuwahara one of the “100 Coolest People in Los Angeles” and Detour magazine called him, “a gifted talent, blessed with savvy and unmistakable sense of style.”
Kuwahara was recently named by Brilliant Magazine as one of the “100 Most Important People in the Eyewear Industry”. Kuwahara has also collaborated extensively on eyewear collections for John Varvatos, Carolina Herrera, Isaac Mizrahi, Behnaz Sarapfour, Hanae Mori, and Coach.
A celebrity favorite, Kuwahara’s designs are worn by Lil Nas X, Elton John, QuestLove, Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, Robert Downey, Jr., Will Smith, Jeremy Piven, Samuel L. Jackson, Casey Affleck, Slash, and Gwyneth Paltrow among many others.