Kate Garraway reveals how the power of music has brought 'joy and hope' to her and Derek

28 April 2021, 07:00 | Updated: 28 April 2021, 10:01

Kate Garraway interview: How music can be such a positive joy in difficult times

Kate Garraway has shared how music has provided a hugely positive "joy" to her and her family during a difficult 12 months.

Smooth Radio presenter Kate has been praised by many for how she has bravely handled the biggest challenge of her life this past year.

In March 2020, Kate's husband Derek Draper contracted Covid-19, and was placed in a medically induced coma. At first, Kate was told that he would not survive. Derek remained in hospital and in a critical condition for many months, and is thought to be the UK's longest-fighting Covid-19 patient.

With Derek now back at home with his family but still requiring constant care, Kate has opened up about her deeply personal story in her new book The Power of Hope, out on Thursday (April 29).

Kate caught up with her Smooth colleague Jenni Falconer to speak about the book, and how music (and Sir Elton John) has been very positive to her family in recent times.

Watch the full interview in the video above.

Kate Garraway speaks to Jenni Falconer
Kate Garraway speaks to Jenni Falconer. Picture: Smooth/Global

Kate told Jenni: "I’ve had a huge amount of support from Smooth listeners, from all sorts of people that have come forward on social media and said, 'Listen, you know, my husband or my brother or my father or my aunt have been through something not the same, but similar' – whether it be a devastating car accident, a stroke, or something. Or being diagnosed with a life-limiting situation.

"People have come forward, and have given me some help with what they’ve had to deal with. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to write the book, partly because I feel like Derek would have probably written one if he could. He may still write a book. I’m not writing it off.

"I’m sure he will, as soon as he can. I’m sure he’ll want to tell his own story, and think, 'Get out of the way, Garraway. I want to tell my own story.' But in the meantime, I’ve tried to tell his story – and our story – as well as I can.

Kate and Derek in early 2020
Kate and Derek in early 2020. Picture: Smooth/Global

"There’s a lot of hope around. It feels like the sort of horror we’ve been living through is lifting. We can do more now – fingers crossed. And fingers crossed the vaccine is giving us a chance for freedom back, and to begin to rebuild life."

On how her show on Smooth has been provided her with musical therapy, Kate explained: "Smooth has just been fantastic, because there’s so much joy in Smooth. There’s so much joy in music, you know?

"One of the things that disappeared was music for me, because my life was: on the phone to the hospital; on the phone to other doctors; dealing with the kids. Actually, when you’re in that sort of adrenaline crisis, you don’t step out of it. Actually, before you know it, joy can almost feel a little bit wrong. You feel like: 'I shouldn’t be enjoying this song.'

Kate Garraway - The Power of Hope
Kate Garraway - The Power of Hope. Picture: Bantam Press

"But actually, you come to realise that you need it in your life, because it sustains you, you know? On Smooth, we don’t tackle the serious issues of COVID. We don’t deal with the nitty gritty of stuff in the sense that other stations like LBC do. Because we want it to be a place where you can escape from all of that.

"And so it became a place of escape for me, you know? Coming in, and listening to music and sharing, it was a wonderful thing to do, and has been a wonderful thing to do. And the really amazing thing is that actually people do get in touch, and talk about the situation with Derek.

"They talk about the sad things in their life. So the fact that they know what I’m going through has made it feel like we’re going through it altogether, and we all sort of understand that need. And we do have great music."

Kate and Jenni
Kate and Jenni. Picture: Smooth/Global

Kate also explained how Sir Elton John has been a brilliant support to her and her family: "He has been so privately supportive to me. He’s just been wonderful.

"And also, interestingly, his music was something that Derek loved anyway, and we ended up playing lots of music to Derek. He was saying, 'Play him music in the coma.' I don’t think he was particularly saying to play his songs. He just knew how important music is to people, even when you’re unconscious.

"It’s fantastic because it’s stimulating to the brain in a different way than talking is. It connects with memories and things that might stimulate them. It was Billy that said, 'We should play him ‘Rocketman’' because if you listen to the lyrics, it’s somebody floating above and trying to get back. He felt that Derek was Rocketman.

"And actually, since Derek is more conscious, we’re talking to experts who say that music is a fantastic thing for coordinating movement, and inspiring movement, because it taps into a different bit of your brain."

The Power of Hope by Kate Garraway is published by Bantam Press/Transworld and is out on Thursday April 29 (RRP: £20).