TV and radio personality Georgie Ainslie helped celebrate the 50th store opening of Go Outdoors in Peterborough. ESP’s Mikey Clarke grabbed a word…
Go Outdoors, the UK’s largest network of outdoor superstores, celebrated its 50th UK store which is based here in Peterborough on March 28. I headed down to show my support. The fact that the beautiful television personality, Georgie Ainslie, was there obviously had no impact on my decision to go (*cheeky wink).
After having pictures taken with her fans, the Radio 5 Live star and former Sky Sports Presenter and League of Their Own panellist was kind enough to answer a few questions. I asked how her day at the had gone. “I’ve had a great day,” she told me. “There’s a climbing wall here which I was challenged to have a go at, and despite my high hopes I managed about two thirds of it. It didn’t look that high until I got started actually climbing it, and then of course you feel silly when a 3 year-old next to you gets higher than you do. So now I feel like a serious wimp.”
Most will know the celeb as Georgie Thompson, but the name changed after marrying sailing gold medallist, Sir Ben Ainsley, last December. I’d heard a rumour that her honeymoon wasn’t all smooth sailing – excuse the pun. “Didn’t you need to be rescued from your boat?” I asked. “To say we got rescued is taking it a little bit far,” she laughed. “We found ourselves in a little bit of trouble just off Necker Island, and a whole crew came out to assist us. We had an issue with the sail, and a long story cut short… if Ben climbed up to try and sort it out, I’d have to be in charge of the boat and I wasn’t too keen on that idea, so we had to call for some help.”
Marrying a ‘Sir’ would make Georgie a ‘Lady’, right? “Yes, officially I’m Lady Ainslie these days,” she said. “I feel very awkward about it as I’ve done nothing to earn it, I just happened to marry someone whose done plenty to earn it. What’s strange for me is, after getting married you’re usually known as the ‘Mrs’ but I’ve totally skipped that.”
Go Outdoors offers their customers everything under one roof for enjoyment of the great outdoors – I wondered whether Georgie was an outdoors person herself. “I’ve always been very outdoorsy. Growing up I loved riding horses. I’ve always been a keen skier, and now I run twice a week – currently with my Labrador puppy.” She continued, “Being a sports presenter I’ve been very lucky to have travelled to some great places across the world – from the glamour of Monaco to the humidity of Malaysia. I think wherever you end up, it’s the locals that can make it a great experience.
“The most interesting trip I can remember was when I went to Innsbrook with the Sky TV Show, A League of Their Own. We were challenged to complete the skeleton luge on their Olympic race track. And you can’t really be taught how to luge. Really you’re just lying on a tray face down as still as you can. Travelling at 60mph on ice, I was thinking it would just go horribly wrong but it was such an adrenaline rush.”
Being a presenter on Sky Sports was a big part of her career – so, is sport something she’d always been passionate about? “My first love is actually news in general,” she told me. “I trained as a broadcast journalist at Leeds University and my first job was as a runner, making tea and coffee at GMTV. Live TV was always my passion. Sports news was a way into news reading, and then I got totally hooked by it.
“Live TV is a great buzz, but you have to just imagine you’re talking to a group of friends. As soon as you start to think about millions of people watching at home it becomes daunting. And you can never ever take yourself too seriously whilst on air. Sports and live TV are both very unpredictable and you just have to take the audience on that journey with you.”
With sport being such a big part of her life, and the Olympics being less than 500 days away, would she try her hands at an Olympic sport herself? “I’d do the dangerous sports like the skeleton and bobsleigh. I think you get such a buzz from live TV, you’re always trying to replicate that in other ways. Paddle boarding is also my new favourite sport and it’s amazing for your fitness. And also darts – that should totally be an Olympic sport.”
Finally for the ESP readers wanting to follow in Georgie’s footsteps, I asked what advice she had. “I think the key thing is initiative. If someone has initiative, they find their own way in from nothing. And be prepared to graft from the lowest level. It’s long hours and very little pay, so you’ve got to really want it and enjoy it.”
Go Outdoors was founded in 1998 and has grown to become the UK’s largest retailer of outdoor equipment and clothing. Check out the impressive 50th store here in Peterborough for yourself now on Saville Road in Westwood.
Photos: Chris Brudenell for ESP Magazine