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WHEN Rebekah Vardy signed up for the latest series of Dancing On Ice, she didn’t expect to last much beyond the first week.
It is, by and large, a popularity contest, after all, and she presumed (for various reasons) that the weight of public opinion would be too against her to win the votes to keep her in.
Having therapy has helped me cope with horrific online abuse and death threats, reveals Rebekah VardyCredit: Karis Kennedy
And so when she made it all the way to the quarter-finals, in a series that was plagued by injury and Covid-related drop-outs, it was something of a personal triumph, especially for a mum of five with no performing experience.
“I exceeded my own expectations and probably the public’s as well,” she says. “I was expecting to be going out in week one or to be in the skate-off every single week, so it was really nice to go as far as we did…”
She pauses, because the longer-than-expected stay gave her the opportunity to do more than fine-tune her skating skills.
“It also meant I could show there is more to me than what people think.”
I’m proud of my kids and even the mistakes I’ve made, because that’s what has made me who I am today
What do – or, rather, did – people think?
“Where do I start?” she replies, raising her perfectly groomed eyebrows.
“It’s the typical footballer’s wife thing: ‘she’s stupid’, ‘she’s only with him for the money’, ‘she’s a gold digger’. Or they’ll have a go because I had children previously and not all of my kids are with Jamie [Vardy, 34, Leicester City star].
“But so f**king what? I didn’t go into a relationship and have a baby intentionally for it to fail. Things happen, that’s life. I’m proud of my kids and even the mistakes I’ve made, because that’s what has made me who I am today.
Becky has revealed why she’s needed professional help to deal with hate onlineCredit: Karis Kennedy
“There has just been so much s**t written about me and people do have these preconceived ideas. But since doing Dancing On Ice, I’ve had so many amazing messages from people saying: ‘We are sorry we judged you, we are sorry we believed those things because you’re actually the complete opposite.’”
She’s at pains to point out that’s definitely not what motivated her to take part, although she admits that the editing on the 2017 series of I’m A Celebrity!, which she felt was unfair, still rankles.
No, Becky, 39, did Dancing On Ice to push her boundaries and try something new – winning over a hostile section of the public has merely been an added bonus.
“There was always a risk that I’d come over looking like a complete arsehole,” she adds. “But people started to see the real me and that’s nice.”
Of course, many of the preconceptions have arisen from the ongoing Coleen Rooney saga which, sorry folks, Becky can’t talk about today for legal reasons.
It’s been 17 months since Coleen pressed send on her now famous social media post accusing “Rebekah Vardy’s account” of leaking stories about the Rooneys to the media.
In an elaborate sting that saw her dubbed Wagatha Christie, Coleen claimed to have posted a series of fake stories to her Instagram, restricting the accounts who could view them to just Becky and so supposedly unmasking her as the source when they subsequently appeared in the papers.
Becky vehemently denied the claims, sued for defamation, and in November a preliminary High Court hearing on the meaning behind the post ruled in her favour.
Coleen Rooney and Rebekah during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group B match between England and WalesCredit: Shutterstock Editorial
Coleen was ordered to pay £23,000 in costs and both sides agreed to mediation in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a trial.
Those talks have, so far, not proved fruitful and unless this is just brinkmanship, there’s now a real possibility of it going to trial, with all the dirty laundry airing that will entail and legal bills already reported to have reached six figures on both sides.
Although she’s unable to discuss it, the case has undoubtedly taken its toll on Becky.
She was heavily pregnant with her fifth child, Olivia, now 15 months, when the story broke and she found her inbox suddenly swamped with death threats and monstrous abuse.
I have had therapy in the last couple of years
Court documents reveal she feared she’d lose her baby as a result of the stress, suffering suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and insomnia.
She confides today that the strain of the last year and a half forced her to seek professional help as she struggled to cope.
“I have had therapy in the last couple of years,” she says, softly, cautiously. There is much she could say, but cannot.
What prompted that?
When Becky signed up for Dancing On Ice she didn’t expect to last much beyond the first weekCredit: Rex Features
“I had it because it was something like I had never experienced before.”
Has the therapy helped?
“Definitely. It’s helped me to re-channel my emotions, refocus and look at things in a different light.”
Nevertheless, the attacks she’s been subjected to have convinced her more than ever that social media platforms and websites that allow unmoderated comment on news stories need to take more responsibility for what they publish.
‘DEATH THREATS AREN’T FUNNY’
“Death threats really aren’t funny and should be taken more seriously than someone going: ‘Oh for god’s sake, can’t you take a joke?’ I don’t find that funny. You never know the mental state of the person who has sent you these messages. You can’t take those things with a pinch of salt and nor should you have to.
“People seem to think they’re allowed to say whatever they want because they hide behind a keyboard.”
She adds: “You see all this ‘be kind’ bulls**t on social media – often you’ll find someone has it written in their profile but when you read some of their stuff… It’s like, you are the problem. The whole ‘be kind’ thing is just a trend because they still slag people off as much as they want. People are such delusional idiots sometimes.”
Just recently there was a picture of Becky doing the splits on the ice, which prompted a slew of misogynistic internet comments about her vagina as well as a page lead in a magazine joking about her “genius cure for thrush”.
Becky is mum to Megan, Taylor, Sofia, Finlay and OliviaCredit: Instagram/Becky Vardy
“I mean, what the f**k?” she says, exasperated. “I don’t give a f**k whether they’ve said sorry. I had to get my lawyers to deal with it so it costs me money to have things like that sorted out.
“It worries me for the future because if it’s as bad as it is now, what’s it going to be like in five or 10 years’ time when my kids are older? What sort of world is it going to be then if no one takes responsibility for the stuff that’s happening?”
Becky, who is mum to Megan, 15, and Taylor, 10, from two previous relationships, as well as Sofia, six, Finlay, three, and Olivia with Jamie, tries not to care about what people she doesn’t know think about her.
“At the end of the day I keep telling myself, what do I care what Ethel or Bob think? They’re not coming round for supper. I’m not going to invite them over to have a Vardy bomb.”
It’s very frustrating, but I’ve learned you don’t argue with idiots
This is a reference to the Blue WKD and Jägermeister cocktail, popular in Leicester and named after Jamie, and the comment is typical Becky who will open up only so much before deflecting with dry wit.
She’s as blunt as a spoon, making her compelling company, and keeps you on your toes.
“It’s very frustrating, but I’ve learned you don’t argue with idiots. They’re going to just think they’re right and s**t on you anyway, so what’s the point? Yes, sometimes it really winds me up and I want to go on a mass rant, but then you’re giving them what they want.”
So who is the real Becky Vardy? What have people got so wrong? She takes a deep breath.
Vardy believe social media platforms need to take more responsibility for what they publishCredit: Karis Kennedy
“I’m kind, considerate, I put everyone above myself. I always go above and beyond to make sure other people are OK.
“Granted, that’s not always been who I am, but people change, people make mistakes and that’s allowed. It takes more balls to turn around and say: ‘I’m sorry, I really f**ked up but let’s have a look at the situation I was in many years ago.’ That’s not who I am now, so I don’t ever judge anyone any more. Unless they’re a real t**t.”
The past she’s referring to is truly shocking. Over the last few years, Becky has begun to speak out about the horrors she suffered as a young girl and into adulthood.
Sexually abused from the age of 12, she was made homeless at 15 by the mother who she says didn’t believe her and who she remains estranged from.
SUICIDE ATTEMPTS, DEPRESSION & POVERTY
She’s survived extraordinary trauma, suicide attempts, depression, poverty and a series of toxic relationships, and when she looks back on the darkest moments of her life she remembers long periods where she no longer cared if she lived.
“When you feel like you have nothing left to fight for… Before I had Megs, what was my life? I hated it. I didn’t really care what happened to me at that point. I was way beyond even thinking clearly.”
It is these experiences that have led Becky to become involved with Not Beyond Redemption, a charity supporting women in prison, providing free legal advice with particular focus on re-establishing access and relationships between mothers and their children.
She visited HMP Send and met female prisoners who had stories that felt very close to home.
The 39-year-old has survived extraordinary trauma, suicide attempts, depression, poverty and a series of toxic relationshipsCredit: Getty – Contributor
“Sitting in the prison and listening to some of these women’s harrowing stories was a real wake-up call. It could have easily happened to me. I’m fortunate that I found a way out when I did. Lots of people aren’t as lucky and end up in situations they can’t get out of.”
Every year, an estimated 17,000 children are separated from their mothers who have been jailed, and according to recent statistics the vast majority of female prisoners – 82% – are behind bars for non-violent offences. It’s senseless, says Becky.
“Not that I’m condoning any crime whatsoever, but some of these women are in prison for minimal offences – one was in for not paying her TV licence – and they’ve had their kids removed. They’ve lost their homes and the system makes it so difficult for people to break the cycle.”
“They come out and no one will touch them, they’re seen as damaged goods. Where do you go from there? How do you rehabilitate someone when no one is willing to give them a second chance?”
Children are taken away from the mother, which increases the chances of them rejecting authority, developing problems and becoming offenders themselves
She points out that it costs £56,000 a year to keep one woman in prison, but just £4,500 to tag her.
“If they’re not a risk to the public, why not put them on a tag and a curfew, give them a suspended sentence and help them get their life back on track? Don’t send them away and take everything from them.
“Don’t force their kids into care, which is a vicious cycle because the children are taken away from the mother, which increases the chances of them rejecting authority, developing problems and becoming offenders themselves.”
Meeting and falling in love with Jamie in 2014, while working as a nightclub promoter hired to organise his birthday celebrations, was the turning point for Becky.
Rebekah Vardy and daughter Olivia on Loose Women last yearCredit: Rex
There’s nothing about her past he doesn’t know and he has proved himself to be the pillar of support she always needed.
“He is the least judgemental person you will ever meet in your whole life,” she says. “He hadn’t been Mr Perfect himself so he understood that perfect is just an illusion that exists in Disneyland.
“Jamie pretty much surfs the emotions with me as I go through them. It’s because he genuinely cares and he loves me and he wishes he could take it all away.
“That’s how you feel about someone you love, isn’t it? I think that’s why we are so good for each other, we work through these things together. He’s really helped me and I’ve really helped him.”
‘DEALT A SECOND HAND’
She says, mentally, something has shifted in the last year and she’s been able to knock down some of the defensive walls she’d built up and put things in perspective.
“Your ability to process things may take you years, but it’s about having the patience. I used to see a black dot on a white piece of paper whereas now I see the black dot, but it’s so small in comparison to everything else, it’s easily overcome.
“I’m not saying I’ve completely nailed it yet, I think it will always be a work in progress but I’m comfortable and I feel secure. I’ve been dealt a second hand.”
The relationship has not been without its challenges, though. Jamie’s immediate family did not attend the couple’s wedding in 2016 and have had no contact with them since.
Vardy married husband Jamie in May 2016Credit: beckyvardy/Instagram
Ask her what the current state of play is there and Becky sighs, wearily.
“I don’t f**king know,” she says. “I’ve got a lot to say on that but what’s the point? Where does it get you? Nowhere. You get to the point where you just think it’s best to say nothing at all.”
One thing she’s dead set on is her own family being complete. With six children between them (Jamie also has a daughter from a previous relationship), life is already relentless.
“Ha! Things are crazy enough, I don’t need to add anything else in.”
With toddler Olivia finally sleeping through the night, Becky is at the stage now where she wants to enjoy the time she gets to spend with each of her babies.
“So I am happy,” she says. “We’re done. I always wanted a big family and I’ve got one, but it’s f**king carnage in this house as it is!”
● To read more about Becky and her work go to Rebekahvardy.com.
In the make-up chair with Becky
What’s your skincare regime?
Lumi Spa to cleanse, La Mer The Moisturising Soft Cream and Forever Awakening Eye Cream. I’ve spent too much time in the sun without a high SPF when I was young, so I really look after my skin now.
Your make-up bag essentials?
Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips 2 in Dancefloor Princess, By Terry Brightening CC Serum, IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream, Eyebrow Queen Brow Fix, Urban Decay Brow Blade and Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Brag Mascara.
Best budget product?
Vaseline Lip Therapy Aloe Vera.
Beauty splurge item?
The Morpheus8 facial – it makes my skin feel amazing.
Describe your beauty evolution.
I’m happiest when I’m bare-faced. And I don’t hammer the Botox any more, I realised I look better without it.
Photography: Karis Kennedy Additional photography: Shutterstock Editorial, Splash News, Instagram/Becky Vardy Hair & make-up: Mikey Phillips Styling: Caroline Watt
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