Carol Vorderman will be in floods of tears watching the Pride of Britain Awards from her sofa next Sunday night.
That’s because a pandemic that has inspired so many more heroes to step up to help others this year also means that, for the first time since she began hosting the awards in 1999, she cannot be there presenting the show.
She says that choosing the winners was tougher than ever this year and she is devastated at not to be able to spend time getting to know them.
Carol, 59, says: “This year I’ll be watching it as a viewer would watch it, rather than as a host would normally watch it.
“It will be strange and that’s why I know I’ll be in absolute buckets. I’ll be a wreck. I’m really, really sad that I can’t be with everybody.
“I would have been quite happy going round and spending two months giving out all of the awards myself. But that’s not the best programme and I’m not allowed to do that.
“Normally I see everybody and go and meet people during the year, privately, not for the telly.
“I was doing that last Christmas, looking back on 20 years of Pride of Britain and going to see some of our past winners – and I’m really glad we got to do that before coronavirus kicked in.
“It was lovely to see what people had done over those years and I’m still in touch with some of them now. All of them are such positive people – no matter what their circumstances might be.
“If people who have been through terrible trauma can be that way then we can all take a piece of learning from them.”
Once again Carol has been hugely inspired by this year’s amazing winners of the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB.
But she admits that the judging process was even harder as the tough times brought out the best in communities across the country.
Carol says: “I think we had 85,000 nominations or something colossal. It was quite extraordinary and wonderful.
“I think more people have stepped up. We’ve had more time to do things. And in my lifetime – and I’m 60 this year – I’ve never known anything like this, where there are restrictions and you constantly have to ask questions that you’ve never had to ask before.
“But millions of people were trying to do their bit, whether to help their street or their family, and we did have that period of total lockdown which actually brought out the best of us.”
As a result, Carol believes that this year’s Pride of Britain Awards are more important than ever.
She says: “Pride of Britain has always provided that time where you can breathe out.
“Everybody has stresses in their lives and it’s a time when, in the normal world, you can sit back and say ‘thank goodness these people are among us’.
“We need that more than ever, because the news is just so overwhelming, constantly. I think it will be a celebration but people watching will breathe such a big sigh of relief that it will be much more emotional to watch, just because of how we all personally have been so dramatically affected in our lives.”
Carol says that she has found the restrictions surrounding the pandemic difficult.
She says: “I’m very much an outgoing person and I’m tactile and I like to hug everybody. I find that hard. I do it obviously because you have to but I find it so unnatural.
“I don’t live a glamorous life, through choice, because I just like seeing people who make me laugh and I don’t care what people do for a living or about hanging out at those celebrity things.
“And the whole face mask thing means that all of those human connections that we usually have, like seeing a smile or enjoying a big cwtsh, as we say in Wales – where you hang on to each other – we can’t do that.
“Those are the real touchstones in your life. And if you’re somebody like me who loves all of that, and belly-laughing and seeing people and bringing the party into any room and all of that, then it’s hard.
“I don’t want to lose those habits, because they are all the things that make life worth living to me.”
But Carol has some things to be happy about, including her 23-year-old son, Cameron, moving to Scotland to do his masters degree.
She says: “I am happy because both my kids are doing really well and my son Cameron has done really well, in spite of the fact of going to special school and having learning difficulties. He’s in an amazing headspace and that’s wonderful as a mum – particularly as a single parent – after years of struggling, really, to get him to this point.
“You can’t underestimate the work that’s gone into that. But that overrides everything else for me. I am so proud.”
The former Countdown star reveals she gets through difficult times by looking back at the end of each week and deciding the good things outweighed the bad.
She says: “There’s such a lot to celebrate and I celebrate every week. The trick is that when it gets to, for example, a Sunday, I mark the week out of 10 – because doing that is a very positive thing and you think, oh actually, that happened which wasn’t good but I got over it.
“So my weeks are all eight or nine out of 10, because it’s how you look at it and how you perceive it.
“I would give my year a very high score due to the circumstances.
“But I’m looking forward to a lot of parties next year – if we’re allowed.”
After her son moved out, Carol decided to make a fresh start in Wales, where she grew up.
She says: “I was in Bristol and my boy was still with me but obviously he’s now in Dundee. So when Wales came out of lockdown it was all a big scramble.
“I’ve been learning Welsh again and I’m starting flying again soon, and I’ve got some cracking projects for the winter that I can do by myself if I have to. I’m really very excited about it all. It’s stunning, I love it and I’m happy here.”
The Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB, will be broadcast on ITV on November 1 at 9pm.