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Carol has got it all figured; I knew the odds, and didn't want baby Cameron arriving before I was ready ..

There's nothing like crunching figures. And Carol Vorderman has certainly done that.

A satisfied smile lights her face as she runs her fingers over her trim size-12 body.

Her second child, Cameron was born in February - but within two months of the birth, she is back in shape and looking better than ever.

But then The National Lottery Live's mathematical wizard does have a head for figures.

And the 36-year-old beauty quickly worked out how to regain her own curvy figure long before Cameron was born.

"Last year, I started going to the gym three or four times a week and got fitter than I was even as a teenager," smiles Carol.

"I kept up the exercise throughout the pregnancy and, as a result, I was back in shape within a month of the birth."

Not surprisingly, Cameron's birth was meticulously calculated from start to finish.

"My first child, Katie - who is now five - was eight weeks premature and arrived just two hours after the contractions started," says Carol.

"When you have one premature birth, the likelihood is that you'll have another - and the second is usually quicker than the first.

"I decided to have Cameron induced. I didn't want to find myself in a situation where he might be at risk if it happened that quickly. I could have been anywhere!"

Carol is big on probability and statistics. It's no coincidence that she hands out sound, logical advice on the mid-week lottery show.

She pinpoints the numbers which give you the best chance of a big win - as well as the ones to avoid.

And you'd be daft not to heed her advice. Carol is a member of Mensa, boasting an impressive IQ of 157 - 57 points above average.

Her mathematical prowess was first brought to our attention 16 years ago on the cult game show, Countdown - where Carol continues to solve the most complicated calculations in under 30 seconds.

But she was already amazing her teachers when she was just three years old.

"I loved maths and once I knew how to add together, I'd work at getting faster at it," she says.

"I started speed-testing myself and while other kids were struggling to learn how to read, I'd have my nose in maths puzzle books."

At 17, she won a place at Cambridge University to read Engineering, hoping eventually to become an airline pilot.

But her childhood dream was quashed when British Airways closed their pilot training school in the last year of her studies.

Unlucky? Carol doesn't think so. Fresh out of university in 1981, she landed her first job on Countdown instead.

There was, however, nothing lucky about Carol's childhood, growing up in the poorest part of Prestatyn, north Wales.

When she was three weeks old, her Dutch father left Carol's mother, Jean, with three children and no money.

"We were very poor," Carol says. "All Mum could afford to feed us on was fish and chips.

"The first time I actually wore something brand new was when I was nine. It was a little orange tweed cape."

Life took a turn for the better when Carol was nine and Jean married Italian-born master builder, Gabriel Rizzi. He spoilt Carol rotten - and even though Gabriel and Jean divorced 12 years later, Carol remained close to her stepfather.

She was devastated by his death a few years ago.

Carol's life had seemed complete after finding happiness with second husband Paddy King.

Carol and Paddy, 41, a partner at accountants Price Waterhouse, met 10 years ago at a wedding - when marriage was the last thing on Carol's mind.

The year before, her first marriage had ended after a few months. "Not so much too young as too wrong," is all she will say about that.

She and Paddy have been happily married now for seven years and Carol admits she was lucky to find him.

You'd think anyone who loves statistics and scorns the imprecise couldn't possibly believe in luck. But not Carol - she even does the lottery.

"Imagine the headlines if I won!" she quips. "Carol Smillie never buys a ticket for that very reason - but I do every week!"

Not that she needs to win. Her career is branching out in all directions and this year she will be presenting five prime-time shows.

Home is a beautiful period house in Maidenhead, with two acres of garden, a swimming pool, and a Jaguar XJR parked in the sweeping driveway.

But don't for one minute think Carol Vorderman is flash.

On her wedding finger she proudly flaunts a yellowy gold wedding band.

"It cost less than pounds 9," she says. "It's not that I'm thrifty. How can I be thrifty when I drive a Jaguar? But I only like beautiful things which have a use."

A bit like Carol Vorderman.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Maung, Carole Aye
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 6, 1997
Words:803
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