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Nick Knowles is back to presenting DIY SOS on Wednesday nights, following his popular stint in the I'm a Celebrity jungle last year. Despite these on-screen successes, the 56-year-old has had a trying few years in his personal life, following his split from wife Jessica Rose. While finalising his divorce in 2017, Nick's spoke exlusively with HELLO!, revealing: "We've tried several times to get back together, but no matter how much you love someone, if you’ve burned some bridges, it's very difficult to rebuild them. I'm at a stage now where, if Jess found somebody who looked after her and made her happy, I'd be happy for her."
Nick and Jessica Rose, whom he wed in September 2012, announced their separation in January 2016. Despite their best efforts to give their nine-year relationship another chance, the couple - who are parents to four-year-old son Eddie, have sadly accepted it's over. "Oh, it would hurt, of course it would," he conceded. "But if you truly love someone, you want the best for them. If that includes you, that’s wonderful; if it doesn’t, well, you still want that for them." It was Nick who instigated their split, a decision that Jessica later told HELLO! had "blindsided" her.
Nick is currently starring on I'm a Celebrity
"I'll hold my hands up and say I got some things wrong, but I’ll never stop caring for Jessica," said Nick. "She's the most beautiful person with the biggest heart and I regret very much some of the things that have happened and the fact we haven't been able to make it work. But it’s time to move on." This is the first time Nick has spoken so openly about the breakdown of his marriage and it’s clear it's not something that sits comfortably with him. His coping mechanism has always been to bury himself in work and he has invited hello! to the Maldives to talk about a new venture: the launch of a yoga and wellness retreat he’s fronting at the recently opened Kandima Maldives, a new family-friendly resort, where our exclusive photoshoot takes place.
The venture is an opportunity that came about after a stress-related health scare two years ago, which saw Nick seeking help at a retreat in Thailand. This life-changing experience was documented on the BBC2 show The Retreat; it also brought him into contact with internationally renowned yoga instructor and mindfulness coach Luke Bache, who will be hosting four week-long retreats with Nick at Kandima. But Nick, who has never done a shoot like this on his own before and acknowledges that he's been "beyond nervous" about it, knows questions about his personal life are inevitable.
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His and Jessica's relationship started to fall apart after the family relocated to Spain in 2015, in search of a less stressful lifestyle. "Eddie had a difficult winter with chest problems and, as Jessica speaks Spanish and loves the outdoors, I thought the change in climate would be good for them," revealed Nick, who also has three grown-up children, sons Charles and TJ and daughter Tuesday. A self-confessed workaholic, Nick, who with his DIY SOS team had just taken on the show's most ambitious Big Build, transforming a street in Manchester to provide homes for ex-service personnel, figured he could commute to and from the UK.
"But I was spinning so many plates, there’s no two ways about it, I stopped going home enough – and when I did go home, I started to get frustrated that I wasn’t getting the welcome I was expecting," he shared. "I’ve always considered my primary role is to provide – it’s something I inherited from my late dad, who I idolised. He suffered a stroke and in the last months of his life, I let him down by not being there, because I couldn’t bear to face up to the fact the illness had changed him. I’ve spent the past 20 years trying to make that up to him by taking on that provider role for the people I love. But what I failed to grasp with Jessica was that the nice house, the lifestyle, none of that meant anything to her if I wasn’t with her. What she wanted was for us to be a family."
Nick is still in the competition on I'm a Celeb
He added: "The more we argued about it, the more resentful I became that I wasn’t feeling appreciated and the more resentful I became, the less I went home. In the end, we were making one another so unhappy, I couldn’t see a solution other than to break up." What the couple didn’t realise was that Jessica was pregnant, something that only came to light when she suffered a miscarriage. Nick was in Thailand at the time, filming The Retreat, but flew straight back to be with her. "There was no question about where I needed to be," he said.
Since then, Jessica has faced a series of devastating health blows, including cervical cancer and sepsis, the latter of which she was told she only survived because she is young and fit. She has credited Nick with being there for her. He, in turn, is in awe of how strong she has been. "She’s incredible," he noted. "And as a mother to my son, who has just brought so much joy into my life, I could not wish for anyone better." He regrets deeply the hurt he caused when photos of him cosying up to soap star Gemma Oaten after a TV awards ceremony in 2016, even though he was single at the time. "A few days earlier, I’d dropped Jessica home after a date night and said to her, 'What are we doing here? I think we both know we’re meant to be together.' She told me I was arrogant for making that assumption and as she slammed the car door shut, I sat back and I thought, 'Okay, enough now,'" he revealed.
"So being a proud bloke, I went out and I met someone and look, whilst I wish with all my heart that it hadn’t happened the way it did, it was a lesson learned and the important thing now is to move on with kindness and respect for the people I love. Jessica has said herself that we tried everything to make it work and we did. If I’m completely honest, if I had my way we’d still be trying," he continued. "To me it’s like this: if you have a beautiful figurine that your mother left you and you break it and glue it back together, do the cracks make it any less beautiful to you? But I have to respect that, for Jessica, the damage is done."
In 2017, Nick presented the moving two-part documentary Mind Over Marathon, which followed a team of novice runners with mental health issues as they competed in the London Marathon for Heads Together, the charity spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. He then went straight back into filming a new series of DIY SOS, the show he has presented for the past 18 years. When asked if he can see himself finding love again? "I’m one of life’s romantics, so I have to believe that will happen," he replied. "As a partner, I’d say that 90 per cent of the time I’m pretty good. I’m caring, romantic, spontaneous. I’ve made mistakes but I don’t believe in looking back. You have to keep moving forwards and both Jessica and I will do that with a tremendous amount of love in our hearts."
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