When we were first invited into the world of Cheshire’s most glamorous housewives in 2015, Lauren Simon was one of the cast’s biggest stars – and famed for her feisty attitude. The ITVBe show proved so popular it became the channel’s second highest rated series – behind The Only Way Is Essex – drawing in 600,000 viewers at its peak.
But it wasn’t long before Lauren’s life changed completely. She split from her property tycoon husband Paul, who is the father of her two daughters, in 2016 after 13 years of marriage.
She decided to take a break from the show in 2019 to deal with the divorce battle, which saw her granted a £3 million payout. Paul is still fighting this order, claiming it is “discriminatory”, while Lauren has argued that with their joint fortune worth over £9 million, it is what she’s owed.
Lauren used her time away from the small screen to work on herself with meditation and exercise. Now, she has returned for the 11th series of the show – filmed before the coronavirus lockdown.
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The 45-year-old is currently isolating in her Cheshire mansion with family. She prefers to keep her children out of the spotlight. But despite the challenging time, Lauren insists she’s stronger than ever.
Offering OK! a glimpse inside her home with her own new, self-shot images, she opens up about her lowest moments, staying safe and her journey back to happiness.
It’s great to have you back on the show. Have you been watching the new series?
Yeah. It was so exciting seeing my first episode. But it’s always a little bizarre to see myself on screen. It doesn’t feel like me until I hear my voice, and then I cringe. It was nice to have some positive online comments as I don’t always get them. If you are true to yourself, then the public will get behind you.
What made you decide to return?
I took a year off filming to try and finalise the divorce, but the plan was always to go back to the show. I just needed to take some time off to sort myself out because it was a huge life change. The divorce battle is sadly still ongoing, but it felt like the right time to go back for me.
Did you miss being on the show?
I missed the girls. Being back filming means I get to see more of them. It’s such a fantastic job. Real Housewives is a fabulous franchise and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of it. I did my first day of filming at Dawn Ward’s house so I didn’t feel nervous at all. I was just having a chat with a mate. I always say that you lose hours in Warford Hall (Dawn’s home) – it’s a mad house and time goes by so quickly before you even know it. It does always start late when you film with Dawn, though, as she takes forever to do her make-up.
Did you feel like your time away was worthwhile?
I’ve had a three and a half year hellish divorce battle, so I really needed a year off to relax. I’ve just been hiding away, being healthy, going to the gym, practising lots of mindfulness and reading self-help books. I needed to look after me, and put myself first. The show is full on and I didn’t feel like I could give it 100 per cent last year. I wasn’t in the right headspace to have the cameras there. And just before I left, I felt like my story lines had come to a natural end so I needed to regroup and come back. Now I’m happy to have the show back – you might even see some romance.
What was your lowest point over the past few years?
There was a time when I struggled to get out of bed. This divorce has been really difficult, and I was just exhausted from it all. I am very lucky that I’ve got amazing family and friends to get me through. I’ve also relied heavily on mindfulness to counteract the negativity, and put positive thoughts and feelings into myself. Going to court once or twice a month is debilitating. People should be given a manual on how to get divorced because it’s the hardest thing that I’ve been through. Nothing lasts forever – good or bad – so I know there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
Has your experience put you off getting married again?
No, it hasn’t actually. It’s been five years since I left my husband, so I’ve got some space from it. I can remember the good things and I did like being married. I like having the security. I like the family environment, so I would get married again. This has just been a particularly sad situation, an upsetting and testing divorce. You see divorces in movies and I’ve lived it. I never want to be in court or see a lawyer again!
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On your first episode back on the programme, you described yourself as a butterfly…
My friends and children call me a butterfly. I think it’s because I’m so sociable! The party I threw for my welcome back had a metamorphosis theme. The process of going from a caterpillar to a butterfly. I’ve been through a really difficult time, which has changed me, but now I’m back and spreading my wings. It’s a shame that it coincided with lockdown! I really wanted to go wild.
How have you been coping during this lockdown?
I work out every day at 10.30am and then go out for a walk for about an hour. From 1pm, if it’s sunny, I sit in the garden and sunbathe. I’m lucky to have a nice house with a garden, and I don’t take it for granted. I was cooking a lot at the beginning, but I’ll be honest with you I’m a bit bored of cooking now. I’m kind of just chilling because in the next few weeks the restrictions will hopefully be eased. I’m enjoying the ‘holiday’ because as soon as lockdown is over we’ll be back filming again. I was supposed to be in Spain for my birthday, but sitting at home for a few weeks is really not a big deal. As long as the people around me are healthy then it’s worth it.
How long have you lived in this house?
I’ve been here 12 years – I love my house! It’s all done up to exactly my style. I did have an interior designer help me, but she got sick of me as I was so bossy. I love the Spanish villa feel I’ve got here. I like my cream marble and all the beautiful chandeliers. The kitchen is definitely my favourite room as it’s where we all hang out. I’m a people person, so I like to always be surrounded.
You look very glamorous in the photos you took for us. Are you still making an effort in lockdown?
Oh, not at all! I am very low key. I’d be great in the I’m A Celeb jungle because all I need is my black eyeliner. I don’t wear any face make-up unless I’m filming the show because I don’t like the feel of it on my skin. I’m not ordering any new clothes or make-up during this lockdown, just vitamins. The Amazon man comes every day with different vitamins. I’m always finding new ones that claim to boost the immune system. I worked out that I take 15 a day, but I’ve always done that. My grandma did too and she lived until she was 99!
The Real Housewives of Cheshire airs Mondays at 9pm on ITVBe. Lauren wears Damsel In A Dress throughout
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