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The Scottish Mail on Sunday - 2021-10-10

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Why, at last, I can say it is absolutely fabulous to 50 be

Sarah Vine On Sunday

By GEORGIA EDKINS

IT IS a milestone that many women may dread – but lingerie queen Michelle Mone insists that, at 50, she is the happiest and healthiest she has ever been. Posing at her home on the Isle of Man, with her trademark platinum hair done in soft waves – and an enviably slender size 8 figure – the Scots businesswoman who married almost a year ago feels in the prime of her life. For the Tory peer, The Big 5-0 marks a significant turning point, one which she hopes will see her move away from the trappings of celebrity in favour of taking stock, spending more time with family and friends, and enjoying the fruits of decades of hard work. Speaking to the Scottish Mail on Sunday in the run-up to her birthday two days ago, she said: ‘It can’t really get any better at the moment. ‘They say 50 is the new 40 and I can honestly say that I’m the most content I’ve ever been. ‘I think I’m the happiest, I look my best, I’m the healthiest, I’m happiest with my family and my husband and I just feel, after all these years of pain, it’s now time for parties.’ Her current anticipation for the future is in stark contrast to how she felt this time ten years ago. At a time when the highly successful lingerie tycoon should have been feeling on top of the world she had set about conquering, the opposite was true. Despite banking millions of pounds and appearing as a regular name on star-studded guest lists, she admitted the Midas touch may have made life easier in some ways, but it had not brought contentment. She revealed how upon entering her 40th birthday party at a small family-run restaurant in Duke Street, Glasgow, near where she grew up, her signature beaming smile belied a churning knot in her stomach. The event was marred by her suspicions about the growing closeness between her then-husband Michael and her company’s designer, Samantha Bunn, both of whom were at the restaurant. She said: ‘It was a kind of awful party – just horrible.’ Eight weeks after her 40th, divorce proceedings were launched, sparking a dark depression which floored her for almost three years. Her then-husband later married Miss Bunn, but has always denied that the relationship began while he was married to his ex-wife. Lady Mone explained: ‘If I look back ten years ago at my 40th birthday party, I was a completely different person to the person that I am now. That person back then didn’t really know herself.’ She added: ‘I know people go through harder times. ‘But to go through, almost straight after my 40th, a big divorce and trying to buy him out of the company, trying to pay him off, trying to look after the three kids, and probably until I was maybe reaching 45 – that first half of my forties was a horrible, horrible stage of my life.’ Coming to terms with the separation loomed large over Lady Mone. She added: ‘Eventually I realised one day – I think it was after about three years – to forget about it. The world works in mysterious ways and whatever the reason I was supposed to go through all of this, there must be a rainbow at the end of it and that rainbow is now.’ To celebrate her 50th birthday, Lady Mone has decided to host five parties – one for each decade of her life – hand in hand with the man she feels she was meant to be with – billionaire tech tycoon Doug Barrowman, 55. The pair married last November in a glitzy but low-key wedding ceremony at their home in the Isle of Man, starting a life together which has brought Lady Mone a new-found perspective in both her professional and personal pursuits. Although long holidays were once unheard of for Lady Mone – who was elevated to the House of Lords in 2015 – this August, the pair took a month off from work to travel the world. Meanwhile, at home, the couple are enjoying walking their three loveable – but cheeky – cocker spaniel puppies and have started playing golf together. Speaking of her new, more balanced lifestyle, she said: ‘I’m starting to slow down a bit, that was always my aim. ‘I’ve been in the media since I was 24 with Ultimo and begging the papers to put the brand in the papers every day. We’ve now gone the other way where we are very quiet, private people.’ Her approach to her personal life has also changed. Having struggled with a ten-year battle against her weight – at one point it ballooned to more than 17 stones – Lady Mone has found the confidence to love her figure, now a size 8. The secret to the weight loss, she says, is to treat her body like a business – sticking to a strict regimen, eschewing takeaways, embarking on one-to-one personal training sessions and employing a specially trained dietician. And her time and effort has paid off. She said: ‘I always had my personal issues with my weight. ‘When I was really low, my weight used to go up high and I had a target of what I wanted to do. ‘Looking back, ten years ago I wouldn’t have thought I’d be walking into my party a size 8, feeling the best I’ve ever felt. ‘I thought in my head growing up that you would reach 50 and you’d have grey hair and false teeth and just be old and now I feel that I am in my prime.’ Confirming that her dieting days are well and truly over, she said: ‘I’ve always said my whole life I want to lose weight but now I’m saying, “No. Enough is enough and I’m happy where I’m at and that’s it”.’ She added: ‘Weight was a big part of my life, it used to rule my life every day. I’ve learned finally to accept who I am and what my body is and I’ve realised that out there, there are a lot more things now that are more important to focus on.’ Brought up in Dennistoun, in the east end of Glasgow, the young Michelle always craved success. Yet, with few qualifications, she knew that she would have to ‘work her butt off’ to make the sort of money needed to provide for her family, own a house and buy a nice car. She began working full-time at 15 and by 24 was firmly in the public eye, synonymous with her thriving bra empire, Ultimo. Her grit and determination characterised her career – and in 2010 earned her an OBE from the Queen for her outstanding contribution to business. Although reflecting on the first 50 years of her life has been difficult at times, Lady Mone believes the hard graft and the pain she has experienced was all worth it. She said: ‘It’s just surpassed my wildest dreams. ‘If I look to where I was born and where I grew up, my mum and dad loved me so much and my dad’s illness and losing my brother, all of that, my life could have gone the other way. ‘I hope that whoever is reading this, and if they are in that dark horrible space, they can look at me and say right, I’m going to get out there and I’m going to change.’ And now Lady Mone’s own metamorphosis is almost complete. Having found love, peace and contentment, she feels it is time for her to retreat slightly from the spotlight. She said: ‘My life is not about any of that celebrity world that I was in for a long time with Ultimo any more. It’s not me and I’m content being more of a housewife and more of a mum to three puppies as well.’ The Baroness added: ‘Now I feel like a butterfly flying, with no stress, thank goodness. ‘I’ve had stress my whole life, now I’m just so chilled. I’m cool as a cucumber.’

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