Home Entertainment Annabel Croft says Kate Garraway was grieving her husband Derek Draper for ‘a long time’ before his death after he battled Covid for four years – as she opens up about her ‘horrendous’ grief

Annabel Croft says Kate Garraway was grieving her husband Derek Draper for ‘a long time’ before his death after he battled Covid for four years – as she opens up about her ‘horrendous’ grief

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Annabel Croft has revealed that Kate Garraway would have been mourning her husband Derek Draper for

Annabel Croft has revealed that Kate Garraway would have been mourning her husband Derek Draper for a “long time” before his death after battling Covid for four years.

The former tennis star, 57, also told Women & Home magazine that her own grief following the loss of her husband Mel has led her to feel like “nothing matters anymore.”

Annabel married sailor Mel, 60, in 1992, but he tragically passed away in May 2023, eight weeks after being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.

She shared three children with the athlete, two daughters, Amber, 27, and Lily, 24, and a son, Charlie, 26.

The former Strictly star said the pain she felt for her husband was “horrible” and she can relate to Kate Garraway.

Annabel Croft has revealed Kate Garraway had been mourning her husband Derek Draper for a “long time” as she appeared on the cover of Women & Home magazine.

Kate lost her husband Derek Draper in January 2024 after he suffered a heart attack before Christmas following a long battle with Covid (pictured in 2019).

Kate lost her husband Derek Draper in January 2024 after he suffered a heart attack before Christmas following a long battle with Covid (pictured in 2019).

Kate lost her husband Derek Draper in January 2024 after he suffered a heart attack before Christmas following a long battle with Covid (pictured in 2019).

Kate lost her husband Derek Draper, 56, in January 2024 after he suffered a heart attack before Christmas following a long battle with Covid.

She said: Kate Garraway has been going through [grief] for a long time and it is very different [scenario to mine]But I can imagine how it feels.

‘Grief is horrendous and I take each day as it comes. I try to fill the day with nice things, but when I’m alone at home, if I start looking at photos, I start sobbing.’

Annabel admitted competing on Strictly Come Dancing distracted her from the “terrible” time at home following Mel’s death.

She told the publication: “I’ve done a lot of extraordinary things in my career, but Strictly is different… A distraction at this terrible time in our family’s life was quite positive.”

“I didn’t do everything perfectly, but after everything we’ve been through, I thought, ‘Does it really matter?’ Terrible things happen in life, so making a few missteps was never going to be serious.

‘Nothing matters anymore. In reality, nothing means anything. “We’re all still trying to process it all.”

She said: Kate Garraway has been going through [grief] for a long time and it is very different [scenario to mine]But I can imagine how it feels.

She said: Kate Garraway has been going through [grief] for a long time and it is very different [scenario to mine]But I can imagine how it feels.

She said: Kate Garraway has been going through [grief] for a long time and it is very different [scenario to mine]But I can imagine how it feels.

Annabel married sailor Mel, 60, in 1992, but tragically passed away in May 2023, eight weeks after being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer (pictured in 2021).

Annabel married sailor Mel, 60, in 1992, but tragically passed away in May 2023, eight weeks after being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer (pictured in 2021).

Annabel married sailor Mel, 60, in 1992, but tragically passed away in May 2023, eight weeks after being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer (pictured in 2021).

Speaking to Women & Home, Annabel admitted that competing on Strictly Come Dancing distracted her from the “terrible” moment at home (pictured with Graziano di Prima).

The former Strictly star said the pain she felt for her husband was “horrendous” and she can relate to Kate.

The former British number one spoke about how the Christmas holidays were very difficult for her family, as they still save Mel a seat around the table.

The mother of three explained that her house still has a large presence of him since his toothbrush and clothes are still missing.

She said: “I have three piles of unopened letters [from well-wishers] And I feel really bad because people have been so kind to take the time to write, but every time I start reading them, I can’t stop crying. I’m too emotional and too raw right now. Christmas and New Years were really difficult.

“There were a lot of tears because they are very big markers and because the year before we had such a normal Christmas and New Year. We were a tight little unit anyway, but losing Mel has brought me closer to my children.

‘We have our places set at the table. It’s like The Three Bears: Mom sits there, Dad always sits there, and the kids are in the middle, and when we sit around that table eating, we talk about Mel and her incredible humor, and that keeps him there.

‘It’s strange because the house that was full of Mel is suddenly empty. All his things are still there. His side table in our bedroom is full, [there’s] all your clothes, [his] The toothbrush is still there.

‘It feels very final if you take that toothbrush and throw it in the trash. If I sell the house, maybe it’s time to clean it all up, but right now I don’t know.’

Mel was a successful investment banker who participated in the America’s Cup and, more recently, ran a tennis school with his wife.

He was noted for his perfect health and, like Annabel, enjoyed an active outdoor lifestyle.

After the Covid lockdowns, the two converted an old delivery van into a mobile home and took it around the country and around Europe on walking holidays.

The mother of three also explained that there is still a large Mel presence in her house as her toothbrush and clothes are still missing (pictured on her wedding day in 1992).

The mother of three also explained that there is still a large Mel presence in her house as her toothbrush and clothes are still missing (pictured on her wedding day in 1992).

The mother of three also explained that there is still a large Mel presence in her house as her toothbrush and clothes are still missing (pictured on her wedding day in 1992).

Announcing his death in May 2023, she said: “My beloved husband Mel passed away peacefully on Wednesday morning after a short battle with cancer. “My family and I are completely heartbroken and ask for privacy at this very sad time.”

Annabel previously revealed that her path crossed Mel’s by chance when she was at a breaking point.

At age 21, he was at the US Open receiving a pep talk from teammate John Newcombe, who suggested he should think about what he wanted to do with his life since he seemed unhappy.

She had been on the tennis circuit for almost six years and felt alone, stressed and lost from the demands of incessant competition.

“While we were chatting, I received a text from my mother saying that the BBC production office in Belfast was asking me if I would be interested in filming a program about yacht racing.

“I had never been on a yacht before, but it ended up with me, Eamonn Holmes and Peter Skellern going to Guernsey to film a show where we learned to race a yacht.

‘Mel, who had just returned from Australia after the America’s Cup, was one of the sailors and that’s how we met.

“After a day of filming, we would all go to the pub, have dinner (it sounds weird, but I’ve never actually done that) and I remember thinking, God, this is really fun and normal, and I want a bit more of This instead of getting up and putting on a tracksuit and worrying about whether my backhand is working today.

They married six years later.

Read the full interview in Women & Home magazine, on sale now.

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