GMB’s Laura Tobin recalls how Dr Hilary took charge when she went into premature labour on set as she shares her pick to replace Piers

Watching Laura Tobin and her three-year-old daughter Charlotte cuddle and play during our gorgeous photoshoot exclusively for OK! VIP members, it’s clear they’re inseparable.

And when we catch up with the Good Morning Britain meteorologist afterwards, we hear about how their bond was forged as they braved the tot’s tough start in life. In July 2017, Laura’s colleague Dr Hilary Jones told her to go to hospital immediately after she suffered stomach pains on set – because she was going into labour 12 weeks early.

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Charlotte weighed just 2lb 8oz on arrival and had a weak immune system, which left her unable to live a normal life and socialise during her first two years. Thankfully, she has suffered no lasting health complications from her premature birth and Laura says she has blossomed into a caring and outgoing child who loves the outdoors.

And she hopes her girl’s love of nature will inspire her to follow in her footsteps by becoming a scientist.

“Before she was born, I wanted my child to be a scientist,” 39-year-old Laura tells us. “It’s important to be inquisitive and investigative. I want to teach her that the world is precious”

Laura now works to raise awareness around premature births with charity Ickle Pickles, which is raising funds via the Sudocrem 90km Challenge – a cycling adventure the whole family can take part in this spring and summer.

And as well as talking about her fabulous home life with Charlotte and hubby Dean Brown, she is happy to discuss the camaraderie on the GMB set.

Here, Laura opens up about her parenting journey – and reveals which rock star she’d love to see playing host on the ITV show’s sofa…


We love this shoot, Laura. You strike us as quite an outdoorsy family…

Charlotte loves being outdoors. When you have a premature baby, they’re vulnerable to all illnesses and colds because they don’t have the immunity a normal-term baby would have. You have to be really careful with them and when you come home, the advice is, “Don’t go to supermarkets, don’t hang around with anybody who’s got a cold.” I didn’t go to a baby class, we’ve never been on holiday, because the advice is not to go on planes. Essentially lockdown [advice], which is to be outdoors, fresh air, wash your hands, we did anyway in the first two years of her life and followed the preventative measures that would make her get as fit and healthy and strong as possible. Then six months later we were in lockdown [Laughs]. So we’ve known what a lockdown entails. It’s a shame it’s been in the past year, when we were finally more confident to do other things.

Has Charlotte built up her immune system now, letting her mix more?

Yeah, it’s pretty much when they’re two. Once, we went into town, sat in a coffee shop and she then got a cold, and we had to go back into hospital for a week. We were like, “We won’t do that again.” She doesn’t feel she’s missing out on much [in lockdown], because she’s already done it.

So was the coronavirus a worry for you with Charlotte’s weaker immune system?

At first we weren’t sure, because with premature babies the last thing that develops is their lungs and they are much weaker as a result. But the older you get, the lungs become bigger and stronger. Her lungs now are probably the same as any other three-year-old’s. At first we were really cautious, thinking, “It’s a respiratory thing to do with lungs, and her lungs aren’t that strong, are we going to be okay?” Then a few weeks later, it came out that it doesn’t affect little ones nearly as badly. That was a weight off our minds.

What was it like giving birth prematurely?

If you knew what was happening, you’d be very worried, but I didn’t know I was going into labour. As it was so early, I had no idea. The story is, I turned up at work, I had a tummy ache, the wardrobe lady said, “My goodness, you don’t look well.” Charlotte [Hawkins] said, “Oh, it’s Braxton Hicks.” Dr Hilary was on his way in, so Debbie in wardrobe phoned him and he said, “It sounds like she might be going into labour but don’t tell her. I don’t want her to worry. St Thomas’s hospital is down the road, which has the best unit in the country for premature birth.” I just turned up at hospital and had no idea I was going into labour. It slowly dawned on me, “Okay, fine. It’s going to happen."

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Were you worried during the time Charlotte was in hospital?

One of the mums said, “It’s one step forward and two steps back, but overall you’re taking steps forward and your baby will come home with you one day.” We stayed calm and listened to the doctors, and I had Dr Hilary on hand. He was my point of call
all the time. He had premature twins, born around the same gestation as Charlotte. Nothing came as a shock, because Dr Hilary told me what to expect.

So if not for him, would you have gone to hospital that day?

I don’t know! I’m guessing I would but probably much further down the line, when I realised I was going into labour. I’m sure my editor would have loved that – giving birth live on air. By that point Dr Hilary would have been in and it would have been his job to deliver the baby. I don’t know how I feel about that [Laughs]. Thank God for Dr Hilary.

What’s Charlotte’s personality like now?

She’s really funny and really kind. She likes to say nice things like, “Mummy, you’re a shining star.” When you smile, it makes her smile. She’s brave and likes picking up her chickens and playing on her scooter. She doesn’t miss a trick and she loves make-up.

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Would you like Charlotte to be a scientist, like you?

I would love her to be. Before she was born, and before I knew whether she was a he or a she, I really wanted my child to be a scientist. I think it’s really important to be inquisitive and investigative and learn about things. I want to teach her that the world is precious and that’s why being outdoors is so important to us.

What’s the best thing about being a mum?

I love playing all day. In lockdown, I was like, “Parents, you could have sent your children to me, I would play crafts all day.” I love it.

What’s it like being part of the Good Morning Britain team?

It’s a privilege every day to be in people’s living rooms to tell them the weather. I have the best job in the world. The team are on point every day. When I joined, I recall watching Lorraine [Kelly] and how she worked with guests. Her and Susanna [Reid] are of the same mould – everything’s written down. Their notebooks are crammed. They know everything, backwards, forwards and inside out. It’s like a masterclass watching them. I love doing the weather with Andi Peters. With the competitions, he makes it look so effortless but what he does is really hard. I’m in awe of him every day.

Kate Garraway’s been through so much in the past year with husband Derek Draper being hospitalised with coronavirus. You must be so proud of her…

She’s amazing. Her documentary [Finding Derek] is amazing. I don’t bother her with it at work. I don’t ask her questions because I know she’s in work mode. But actually, she’s really open, even on air, which I’m amazed by. When I had Charlotte in hospital, I’d come on and be like, “Hey, everyone” and didn’t feel like I wanted to share all that. She’s doing it because there are so many people going through something similar. It helps her and other people. And the first time I saw her [after Derek was admitted to hospital] was amazing. She continues to be really strong – but that’s what she’s like at work. She’s the craziest, most disorganised organised person you’ll ever meet.

In what way?

Her room is a mess, Ben [Shephard] is always going on about her hair being a mess and once her handbag actually had a bird’s nest in it, because it was a project one of her children was doing at school. But she remembers every interview, everything she’s ever done, and her brain is still in place – and then some. Piers Morgan said, “Treat this as a piece of research, look at every angle, every avenue, and you will come out of the other side of this.” She’s tackled it in a very methodical way, I think.

How’s it been since Piers left? Do you miss him?

I wasn’t even there that day [when he left] and that whole week was just a crazy week – but that’s all I’m going to say about that.

There’ve been lots of rumours of lots of different presenters taking over from Piers Morgan since his exit. Who would be your dream?

Jon Bon Jovi!

Ha! He’d be amazing. There are also a lot of rumours that you’re set to appear on Strictly. Is that something you’d be interested in?

I would love to do Strictly. I love dancing and singing, that’s all I do around the house with Charlotte. I would be available…

Tell us about your work with the Ickle Pickles charity…

It was set up by a mum called Rachel whose son was born about 12 weeks early. When these babies are born their eyes are closed and don’t open for a while. His eyes were closed for ages and they didn’t want to name him until they could see what he
looked like. The nurse used to call him her “Ickle Pickle” and the name stuck with them. They wanted to do something to say thank you and help other people, so they set up the charity. Anybody can help raise money for it and they will give the proceeds to hospitals that might need things such as a new incubator or breast pump. So far, they’ve raised nearly £1.5million.

Tell us about the Sudocrem 90km cycle, which will raise money for the charity…

You have to cycle 90km as a family. If you’re really ambitious you can do it in a day, or you’ve got until the end of the year to do little journeys as a family and you get your friends and relatives to sponsor you. When the weather
gets nicer we’ll go out on journeys down the river.

For information on taking part in the Sudocrem 90km Challenge, visit sudocrem.co.uk/cycle-more or icklepickles.org

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