Within minutes of her arrival at St Francis Animal Welfare Centre in Fair Oak, the BAFTA-winning presenter and award-winning author is holding tiny kittens, hugging rescue dogs and rubbing the nose of Muffin the ageing donkey – who was saved from the meat trade. Next she has Jane Garvey, BBC Radio 4’s presenter for Woman’s Hour on the phone to centre manager Helen about adopting cats, before offering a book signing with all the proceeds going to the charity. Aside from being one of the most popular faces on TV – from major sport to Ramblings, Crufts and BBC Sports Personality of the Year, one is immediately struck by her dynamism, compassion and desire to make the world a better place. Especially where animals are involved.
It all started in Hampshire, where she grew up in Kingsclere surrounded by dogs and hundreds of horses. Her father Ian was a champion racehorse trainer – who trained horses for the Queen and more than 2,000 winners, including the great Mill Reef. Her brother Andrew is also a prolific trainer and is still based at the Balding family home of Park House Stables.
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