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The Box: I shook my pom poms... we fell in love.

Byline: ROZ LAWS

BIRMINGHAM'S National Indoor Arena is a huge place -so to find the love of your life among 8,000 spectators is an amazing feat.

Yet dancer turned TV presenter Claire Sutton managed to do just that. She was shaking her pom poms with G-Force, the cheerleaders who entertained the audience during filming of the hit TV series Gladiators. And her future husband Daniel was sitting in the stands.

'He was miles away, but somehow our eyes met,' remembers Claire.

'I clocked him and thought 'He's lovely'. 'It turned out he was the brother of a friend so I met him afterwards and we got chatting. We went dancing and flirting at BobbyBrowns nightclub and four years later, in 1999, we were married.

'He's a landscape gardener and a real calming influence. He's also six years younger than me and gorgeous, so I did well!

'I have such good memories of Birmingham. G-Force took over the Hyatt Hotel every summer, and had our own fans. One guy came to the NIA every day and passed me sweets.

'We'd go out every night, often with Ulrika Jonsson who was one of the girls. We'd ask for alarm calls for 2.30pm the next day!'

Claire, 36, retired from dancing in 1997 and turned to TV presenting -she was Bruce Forsyth's sidekick on the BBC1 gameshow Takeover Bid.

Now she's one of the most popular presenters on digital shopping channel QVC, which celebrates its 10th birthday on October 1. It has four million customers who last year spent pounds 200 million.

Claire says: 'It makes me laugh when people say 'Does anybody really buy anything?'.'

QVC's anniversary is the same day as the first birthday of her son Joseph. She and Daniel also have another son, Thomas, who was born in May 2001 with Down's Syndrome.

'It was such a shock and a really harrowing time,' she said.

'Spookily, just the week before his birth, I suddenly said to aSTAR ACT... former dancer Claire Sutton with Chris Evans friend 'What would I do if I had a baby with Down's?'. I don't know what made me say it. She said 'You'd get on with it and love it because it's your baby'. And I did.

'Tom had a heart problem at the beginning and was unable to breathe by himself for a month. So I feel incredibly lucky that he's well now. He walked just before he was two and now he's running around.

'The viewers went through my pregnancy with me so when he was a month old I took him on air. I got 250 letters and cards. Many are from parents with Down's babies and I sobbed for an hour when I read them.

'Everyone said lightning wouldn't strike twice but being pregnant again with Joseph was very scary. I had an amniocentesis test to check, as Thomas requires so much special attention that we didn't feel we could cope if it happened again.

'I was petrified until the moment he was born, but it was such a relief when he was healthy. Now I'm trying to persuade Daniel to do it again!'


DANCING GIRLS... Claire Sutton, ringed, in her days with cheerleaders G-Force
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Sep 21, 2003
Previous Article:The Box: June comes clean on order.
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