Howard Donald: ‘I’ve always put my kids before Take That, always’

Take That’s Howard Donald features on this week’s episode of ‘Dave Berry’s Dadpod’ – a parenting podcast that features funny and poignant discussion on the topic of Fatherhood.

The podcast launched last year, coinciding with Absolute Radio host Dave Berry becoming a father for the first time. One year on, and Dave’s little girl Evie is nearly 2 years old as the Dadpod returns with a brand-new line-up of famous mums and dads. See below for select quotes from Howard’s chat with Dave.

He shared that his 15-year-old daughter Lola has just moved in with him and his family – “My 15-year-old has just decided to come and live in England and now she lives with me. We’ve put her in a school, and it all happened very quickly… I’m learning again because I’ve never brought her up underneath the same roof. So, all of a sudden, she comes here at 15, which is the worst age ever, apparently, so I’m told. So that’s another thing that throws something else into the works as well as a four-year-old and three-year-old. But the amazing thing is, she wanted to come over here and be in England because she wanted to start again, year ten and do her GCSE’s here, but she really wanted to be with her family. You know, she wanted to be together where her brothers are here and her, her other sister’s here whos in London and I think it’s really good for her.”

On being a father again in his 50s to his two boys Bowie and Dougie – “I think, at 52, which is what I am, I’ve really struggled in the 50s being a father. I’ve actually really taken it physically and mentally, draining for me…I would advise to fathers who maybe already have children that may be in their teenage years, don’t do it. In (your) 50’s don’t do it. That’s my personal experience. I’m sure there’s people out there in their 50’s that have found it a doddle, maybe they’ve got, you know, babysitters and nannies and stuff like that, maybe not, maybe they’re really struggling as well, but, I’ve really struggled with it and I would never advise anyone in their 50’s to have young children.”

He spoke about the guilt he feels as a father “I hold a lot of guilt. I hold a hell of a lot of guilt for leaving my ex-partners and leaving my child for them to look after. Obviously though, I’ve not been one of these fathers that’s said, “Right, I’ve got a new partner, I don’t want anything to do with this now. I don’t want anything to do with that child.” I’ve always been there, I’ve always felt so guilty about it, I’ve always been there for them. I’ve been there, especially my daughter, because my second partner lived in Germany, I used to go back and forwards to see Lola every two weeks and stay there for three nights and, in the beginning when I didn’t have an apartment, I was staying in a hotel for three nights and had to take my daughter to the hotel to stay there with her.”

He talked openly about mental health amongst men “There’s a lot of people suffering behind closed doors that don’t wanna talk about it and that’s, kind of, what I’ve done, you know? When I’ve been struggling with children, you know, your friend will talk to you about and you, sort of, hide it a little bit.”

How he juggles being a father with being in a band – “I’ve always put my kids before Take That, always. I know sometimes you gotta go out there and you gotta be in Take That and you’ve gotta be away. But, my kids are always on my mind before Take That are on my mind. It’s so important to be like that and not lose track about, you know, who you actually are, which is a dad and trying to be a good dad… it’s been a struggle in the past, being away, you know, recording in Los Angeles, or wherever you’re recording, being on tour. The great thing is now that, whenever we’ve been on tour, I’ve always put it in so that, you know, I’ve got a mini bus picking them up from the train station, come over to the hotel and they’re there for ten days.”

On his kids being able to watch him perform and their love for Gary and Mark “You know, we (Take That) finished first time round in ’96, and my first one was born in ’99, which is Grace. I always said to myself, “Oh, god, I wished you would’ve seen that”, you know? “I wished you would’ve seen what I was doing or saw me on stage.” So, then we restarted again in 2006, and she got to see me performing live on stage. Then along came Lola in 2006 and I was thinking, “Oh, I hope she gets to see us, she gets to realise what I’m doing and what my job is and watch me perform live.” So, then she got to see me live… on the last tour, Lola had Bowie and Dougie on her shoulders in the pit, while we were performing on stage, watching us…

“It’s such a buzz, honestly, it’s such a buzz. With the other two, they got it but now they’re too young to actually understand what I’m really doing. But they know who Mark and Gary is, they’re always asking for Mark and not me. You know what I mean? “Where’s Mark?” Like I come home with Mark everyday, you know?”

‘Dave Berry’s Dadpod’ is available to download every Thursday from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, the Absolute Radio app, absoluteradio.co.uk, and all mainstream podcast providers.

Listen to the full episode here: planetradio.co.uk/podcasts/dave-berry-dadpod

November 12, 2020
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