Donna comes up for Air
There is no doubting Donna Air's genuine enthusiasm for healthy living as she deftly slices carrots, shreds ginger and peels oranges in the kitchen of her home.
Whisking everything into a blender, she creates her favourite pick-me-up smoothie to banish the problem of a mid-afternoon energy slump and one she enthuses is far more effective than a quick dose of caffeine.
Fast fixes are apparently not on the agenda for this down-to-earth Geordie who has stoically rebuilt her life over the past five years as a single parent and is tenaciously continuing to forge a career as a presenter, actress and designer.
"I'm a great believer in beauty coming from the inside," says Air, who proves the point with glowing good looks, a glossy mane of blonde hair and an enviable figure.
Hull Aero Club is the place for you! For information, for bookings or to buy a flight as a special gift, phone us or see our website at www.hullaeroclub.co.uk
Terms: Trial flying lessons, 2-seat aircraft, half-hour £75, hour £130; 4-seat aircraft, half-hour £90, hour £160.
Contact: 01964 770415
Valid until: Sunday, June 02 2013
The 33-year-old, who is backing Tropicana's Beauty Of Juice campaign, says: "There's such an emphasis on expensive creams that brim with vitamins.
"But while they help, I really see the difference in my skin and energy levels when I've stuck to my routine of vegetable and fruit juices and lots of fresh, home- cooked food."
She is chatting at her north London home where she lives with her nine-year-old daughter, Freya.
Air's six-year relationship with Freya's father, casino entrepreneur Damian Aspinall, ended in 2007.
"Being a single parent is the norm to me now and you just get used to coping with everything yourself," she says.
"Although it can be challenging at times, it's very fulfilling and great fun. There's never a dull minute, that's for sure."
Her focus is on giving her daughter the same stable childhood she enjoyed growing up in Gosforth, Newcastle.
A child model, she found TV fame aged 11 when she starred in the hit children's series Byker Grove.
She was spotted at a local drama school that also launched the careers of actress Jill Halfpenny and Cheryl Cole.
"I did start working young, which was right for me and I'm very happy that my parents let me do it," says Air, who still retains her Geordie burr.
"There weren't so many opportunities when I was growing up in Newcastle and so getting the chance to be on television was amazing.
"I was very sporty and artistic and adored being in school plays and grabbed the chance with both hands and embraced it. Of course, it led on to other things and I have no regrets.
"But Freya's in a more privileged position than I was and I would prefer her to be more cautious, study and think about what she wants when she's older. I wouldn't want her to jump at the first thing that came along."
Most recently, Air designed a children's range for Debenhams but turned down the opportunity for Freya to follow in her footsteps and model the clothes.
"I don't want to encourage her into modelling. But Freya definitely helped me with the designs, as she is not afraid to be vocal about her opinions. She is very outgoing and enthusiastic – not unlike me as a child.
"She'd have her friends round and I'd mention an item for the range and they'd all go, 'Girls don't like pink', and tell me I was wrong. Children always tell it like it is."
Design is a recent addition to Air's varied portfolio. Following five years in Byker Grove, she joined pop duo Crush and toured America and Japan. She then returned to England to present a variety of shows, including The Big Breakfast for Channel Four.
She has appeared in television dramas, including Hollyoaks and Hotel Babylon, as well as appearing in films such as The Mummy Returns.
"Working really hard comes naturally to me. As my dad always says, 'We're grafters', and I was brought up to believe if you put effort in, you'll eventually get rewarded," she says.
"I'm also not at all rigid about life because I think you can miss out on so many things. I'm very adaptable and refuse to get hung up on things I can't change."
While it was reported that her relationship with Aspinall broke up because of his reluctance to get married, she says: "To be honest, I've never been driven about getting married, although it's a good foundation when children are involved.
"But I'm very independent, have an amazing daughter and I just take life from day to day.
"Who knows what my future will hold and whether there I will one day marry and have more children? I don't have a big plan – I'm happy to let the future unfold."
But in February last year, she was shaken when on the eve of starring in a play in London she was involved in a car accident, which left her with a broken leg.
Shortly afterwards while hobbling on crutches, she fell and broke the other leg, which meant she had to use a wheelchair for several months.
"It was an awful time and a shock to suddenly lose mobility, but you just have to get on with it and cope.
"It's amazing how you do and I realise, particularly after watching the Paralympic Games, how lucky I am that it was a temporary problem.
Although it took a while to recover, I now have only mild stiffness in one foot."
That misfortune served to further reinforce her inner self-belief in her ability to cope with whatever life throws at her.
"I'm very grounded. I've got my own sense of stability, which I've worked hard to build, and I'm proud of where my daughter and I have got to during the past few years," she says.
Her busy schedule also embraces charity work, as well as voicing her support for her fervently held belief in causes such as the benefits of organic food.
She has worked with the Soil Association and edited a Grown In Britain cookbook.
"I've been so busy and productive over the last year and recently I've had the time to come up for air and realise how happy I'm feeling happy in all areas of my life at the moment – both personally and professionally," she says. "It's nice to be able to say all the boxes are being ticked in Donna's world right now."
Donna Air is supporting Tropicana in its Beauty Of Juice campaign. For more information, visit www.tropicana.co.uk