1. The truest sign of a National Treasure is that they don’t think they’re a National Treasure.
But Balding is one of the people you can truthfully say that about.
2. She believes that horses bring out the best in us.
I believe that horses bring out the best in us. They judge us not by how we look, what we’re wearing or how powerful or rich we are, they judge us in terms of sensitivity, consistency and patience. They demand standards of behaviour and levels of kindness that we, as humans, then strive to maintain.
3. Despite not being an athlete, she completely owned the London Olympics.
Which is quite an achievement for a television presenter.
4. Because her enthusiam for what she does is completely warm and infectious.
Even with sports she doesn’t know much about, she does her homework.
5. She invented the “Mobot”.
Mo Farah thought he needed a “thing”. The kindly sports presenter was on hand with a move inspired by the YMCA, as she explains here.
6. She’s a proud and positive LGBT role model without ever setting herself up as a campaigner.
She has been in a civil partnership with former Radio 4 newsreader Alice Arnold since 2006.
7. Which is a brilliant attitude.
I have learned not to take too much notice of those who disapprove of my lifestyle choices, because I know I was not designed to be part of the crowd. If I am different, I make no apology, and I hope others will have the courage to be themselves and stand up for what they believe in, fight for those who need protection, love who they want to love, and be proud of it.
8. But she won’t stand for any nonsense either.
In 2010, she made a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission after AA Gill called her a “dyke on a bike” in The Sunday Times, and the editor refused to apologise, saying “a person’s sexuality should not give them protected status”. The PCC found in her favour, saying Gill had “referred to the complainant’s sexuality in a demeaning and gratuitous way.” She wrote an inspiring defence of her position for The Independent.
9. She has a healthy attitude to her levels of fame.
“I do get recognised in Sainsburys, but that’s about as far as it goes. I was doing a book signing and Waterstones gave me two lovely heavies to look after me - I really don’t know why - and I had to politely say to them, ‘I’m going to M&S to buy a salad and it would be ridiculous for you to come along. I’m not Justin Bieber’.”
11. When The Independent On Sunday Pink List was published, she was pretty much the only person on it not to spend all day tweeting about it.
Long flight to China ahead with a promise to post pictures of baby pandas if I can get wifi. Operation Wild filming underway #OpWild
13. When questioned about why her autobiography was serialised in the Daily Mail, she said this:
“I was delighted when I heard they’d asked. It made me roar with laughter. I went for it because the best way of countering prejudice is by allowing your sensible voice to be heard. I thought, ‘this is a real moment, I’d be a fool to let it pass’.”