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'I just had to disappear': Carol Vorderman shares how grief led her to run away following death of Richard Whiteley

23 June 2024, 18:39 | Updated: 24 June 2024, 07:23

'I just had to disappear': Carol Vorderman shares how grief led her to runaway following death of co-star Richard Whiteley
'I just had to disappear': Carol Vorderman shares how grief led her to runaway following death of co-star Richard Whiteley. Picture: Alamy

By Danielle de Wolfe

Carol Vorderman has shared for the first time how the grief she experienced following the death of co-star Richard Whiteley led her to "disappear" in a bid to cope.

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Explaining her struggle following the death of her longtime friend and co-presenter, Carol shed light on her own decision to runaway after experiencing severe grief in the public eye.

"There was a great love between us... and I couldn’t cope," Carol explained.

"I couldn’t cope with being in the public eye [sic]…I just didn’t know what to do."

Whiteley, 61, passed away suddenly following heart complications after first being admitted to Leeds Royal Infirmary with pneumonia in May 2005.

Carol and Richard's professional relationship spanned more than twenty years, with the pair co-hosting hit daytime television show Countdown from its inception in 1982 until his death in 2005.

It comes as the search for teenager Jay Slater on the island of Tenerife is poised to enter it's second week.

Carol Vorderman opens up for the first time about going missing

The pair became lifelong friends as a result, with Carol explaining that the pair became "very, very close".

“Richard Whiteley died - and he died quite suddenly,” Carol explained.

“It will start me off…” Carol admitted, voice choked with emotion.

“Everyday people would talk to me about him, even though I wasn’t with him... There was a great love between us… and I couldn’t cope, I just couldn’t cope.

“And I couldn’t cope with being in the public eye [sic]…I just didn’t know what to do," she explained.

Read more: Jay Slater's mum issues desperate plea after Spanish police reject help in search for missing Brit

Read more: Jay Slater's father and brother make emotional pleas for return of the missing teenager

Explaining that her children were staying with her former husband for the weekend at the time, she explained: "I just had to disappear."

“I didn’t want anyone I knew around me, I just got in my car and I drove.

“I eventually found a hotel and I didn’t have anything with me - I had my purse, and just locked myself away then, switch my phone off, all of that.

It's an experience the presenter said made her "feel better", with the space allowing her to process the emotions she was experiencing.

Jay Slater's disappearance led presenter Carol Vorderman to reflect on her own experiences of grief
Jay Slater's disappearance led presenter Carol Vorderman to reflect on her own experiences of grief. Picture: LBC

"I just stayed in that room, just to get my thoughts together really," she said.

“So I do understand when people say that that’s their only option, I really do.

“And there’s no shame about it, that’s why I’m telling this story for the first time.

“There’s no shame, everyone has those moments, I believe, at some point."

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