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24 September 2014

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Kent born & bred: Fiona Phillips
Fiona Phillips. 
Kent has the perpetual ability to produce celebrities and we are lucky enough to have a huge list of personalities with connections to our county.

But not many people know that GMTV presenter Fiona Phillips was born and bred in Canterbury...
Pictures: Trevor Leighton

"I was born in Kent and Canterbury hospital in 1961 and my granddad also died there," says Fiona.

Fiona's grandparents used to run the Duke's Head pub on Church Street in St Paul's and her parents got married in St Paul's church.

"I always used to look at mum's wedding photos, as every little girl does, and that area means so much to me, my grandparents' pub was just across the road from the church."


Fiona believes that going to school in Kent played a big part in where she is today.

"I went to King's Mead school which I absolutely loved and I still remember my days there. One of my most inspirational teachers was Mrs McKay. Mrs McKay always said to me 'remember me when you become a famous writer'. I was only little then but I loved English and you always remember when someone gives you great encouragement and she was inspirational. I loved that school."

Fiona Phillips.

As a little girl, Fiona lived in St Stephen's Close, off St Stephen's Road in Canterbury and remembers an idyllic childhood.

"We used to walk across St Stephen's Road and there behind the houses was a great big field and the river Stour. We used to walk to school through those fields. And I remember going off on our own to fish, taking our nets and catching catfish, dogfish and eels from the river and I just loved it. We even loved the rats along the river."

Fiona pauses and says: "Please stop me if I'm rabbiting on. It's just like a stream of consciousness - I had such a wonderful childhood in Kent."

Although Canterbury is Fiona's favourite place in Kent, she remembers travelling all over the county with her family.

"We went all along the coast to Whitstable, Dungeness, Tankerton, Seasalter, Sandwich - all the seaside resorts. I used to love Dreamland at Margate; it was such a little child's idea of another world then. It was my Disneyland really."

Even in her hectic GMTV schedule, Fiona still manages to return to the town of her birth.

"I was back recently at Canterbury Cathedral because the Alzheimers Society had a big concert there. I love Canterbury so much; I think it's the most beautiful city. It was absolutely gorgeous to come back, it really made me feel so nostalgic."

The trip evoked so many memories that Fiona plans to return to the county, this time with her family. "When we have spare weekend we will come down and bring the boys. I'll be doing that boring thing, you know, this is where mummy used to do this, this is where mummy used to do that!"

Interview by Jo Geear

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