Looking after three toddlers in lockdown is no easy task as Helen Glover and Steve Backshall know.
With very little sleep and no one to babysit, the couple admit their exhaustion has been challenging.
“I don’t know how Helen does it,” says conservationist and TV presenter Steve 47. “I’m having less sleep now than ever but I can’t complain because I’m having at least three times as much as Helen.”
Helen, 34, adds: “It gets to 3 am and all of the children are fully charged, so that’s tricky. You have a tough night like that and you can’t see a neighbour the next day and say, ‘here, hold the baby’.
“You can’t see a friend to take them off you for a few hours. It’s the constant nature of it, there’s no gap, no stop.”
But it’s also given the couple a rare opportunity to spend time with two-year-old Logan and 10-month-old twins Willow and Kit at home in Berkshire.
The year has been full of firsts, something Steve, who is often travelling for work, might have missed otherwise.
“In the first lockdown I was able to just enjoy being a dad,” says Steve.
“Every single day has been a milestone; every day is the first they say a new word, clap their hands, stand
up without assistance or start playing jokes on you.
“It lasts as well. It’s the last day that they gurgle and shake their head every time they’re excited, it’s the last day they blow raspberries all the time.”
The couple’s lockdown routine is a world away from where they were a year ago, presenting the Animal Hero Awards on stage for the first time to a room full of people – and their pets.
They will return this year for a ceremony to be live-streamed on Facebook tomorrow to honour Britain’s most courageous animals and the people who fight for them. The couple, both on the judging panel, say the awards could not come at a better time.
Steve says: “These awards are particularly prescient. We’re in a time where we’re incredibly focused on the challenges of human beings and the things that are affecting our civilised world.
“There can be a tendency to forget problems of the natural world, particularly the problems that can be dealt with through altruism.” He says two winners stood out for him, sisters Asha and Jia Kirkpatrick, who persuaded Kellogg’s to change its palm oil policy to help save orangutans threatened by deforestation.
For Helen, the winners who stood out were springer spaniels Max, Paddy and Harry, who helped owner Kerry Irving through depression and then put smiles on thousands of faces during lockdown.
Steve and Helen are passionate about fighting for the planet and say having children has given them a whole new perspective on what needs to be done.
“We are at an absolutely critical point in time for conservation,” Steve says.
“I am significantly worried my youngsters will not get to see the things I have seen. It’s not going to be there unless we really kick into gear now.”
Helen says: “Having children it changes your level of perception. You see their innocent eyes and think, ‘I’ve got to do a better job for you.’”
- Watch the Animal Hero Awards tomorrow, 12 noon at www.facebook.com/AnimalHeroAwards