Gabby Logan - why Leeds will always hold a special place in my heart

PUBLISHED: 23:49 28 August 2012 | UPDATED: 01:46 24 October 2015

Gabby Logan at the Sony Radio Academy Awards. Rex Features

Gabby Logan at the Sony Radio Academy Awards. Rex Features

Sports presenter Gabby Logan tells Andy Greeves why the city of Leeds will always hold a special place in her heart

As the daughter of professional footballer Terry Yorath, a lot of Gabby Logan’s early life saw her move around with her father’s career.

Born in Leeds on April 24, 1973, Gabby lived in three different houses in the city in the first three years of her life before moving to the West Midlands in 1976 when Terry was transferred from Leeds United to Coventry City.

Gabby’s dad also went on to play for Tottenham Hotspur in London and Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps before returning to Yorkshire and Bradford City in 1982.

‘It’s difficult to see myself as a particular native of anywhere,’ says Gabby, whose father Terry is originally from Wales and mother Christine is a Leeds-based property developer. ‘I’ve lived in London over half my life now, but I don’t really think of myself as a Londoner. With strong Welsh origins and having been born in Yorkshire, I suppose I see myself more as a Yorkshire or Welsh woman, but it’s something that is pretty hard to define.’

While Gabby jokingly admits to being ‘something of a nomad’, her passion for Yorkshire and her home city of Leeds is clear. ‘Leeds has been a big part of my life,’ she says. ‘My pivotal school years all took place there, as I studied at Cardinal Heenan High School and Notre Dame Sixth Form College. It’s where all my gymnastics training took place too as I was a member of a club in the city. Pretty much my whole family on my mum’s side is still based in Leeds, so I have a big tie to the place to this date.’

Gabby’s career as a rhythmic gymnast began in Yorkshire while she was still a young teenager and saw her go on to represent Wales at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland. ‘I spent a lot of time at Carnegie, the sports complex in Leeds, doing my training,’ says Gabby, adding that there were times when she trained up to four and five hours a day around her school work in the run-up to a big event. ‘Carnegie evokes strong memories when I’m back in Leeds.’

Sciatica forced her to retire from gymnastics aged 17 but as one chapter in her life closed, another opened. After her A levels, Gabby moved to Durham to read law at the College of St Hild and St Bede. She stayed in the North East after graduation, landing her first broadcasting role with Metro FM in Newcastle before moving to London in 1996, to become a presenter with Sky Sports. She has remained in the capital ever since, working for broadcasters including the BBC, ITV and Channel 5, but the memories of her Yorkshire upbringing remain strong.

‘I’ve got lots of simple and happy memories of Leeds, like having pizza for dinner on a Sunday night or going for a walk with my auntie, granny, cousins and the family dog around Roundhay Park,’ she smiles.
‘Teenage years in Leeds were good and I spent a fair bit of time in the Irish Centre in Leeds as I had quite a few Irish friends.

‘I had a good Polish friend too and I’d visit the Polish Centre with her on holidays or when the school was on strike. So between the Irish Centre and the Polish Centre, there were quite a few good nights out, that’s for sure.

’With her six-year-old twins Reuben and Lois to look after, as well as a hectic presenting career, Gabby admits she doesn’t get back to Leeds ‘nearly as often’ as she would like.

‘What strikes me every time I am back in Leeds though, is quite how much the city has changed and most certainly for the better,’ she adds. ‘The arcades and the Victorian Quarter in the city centre look fantastic as does the area around the Calls. Leeds has become a modern city, but still maintains the feel of being quite a close-knit city too.’

Gabby will be fronting the BBC’s coverage of the European Football Championships and the Olympics Games this summer, meaning a return to Leeds will be unlikely anytime soon. When she is back however, the presenter has a good idea of how she might like to spend a day or weekend in the city.

‘Kenny (her husband) and I had lunch at Harvey Nichols in Leeds on a beautiful summer’s day last year which was lovely. We had a leisurely look around the shops then met up with family in the evening.

‘So when I’m next back in Leeds, that’s the kind of thing I’d like to do on an ideal day.’

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