Personal finance journalist Martin Lewis made ITV presenters cry on Thursday as he recalled on Good Morning Britain how his mother died suddenly when he was 11.
Lewis, who is Jewish, grew up in Manchester before moving to Cheshire when his father became headmaster at a Jewish special needs school, but the family was devastated when his mother was killed in a car accident two days before his twelfth birthday.
He later founded the website MoneySavingExpert, selling it for £80 million, and is a regular TV analyst discussing financial issues, but the subject was deeply personal to him this week, as he held back the tears when talking to ITV’s Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway.
“I lost my mum just before I was 12 and it was very sudden,” he said. “It’s something I struggle to talk about. I’ve done one interview in my life on it, and I won’t do another one… because it took a very long time to recover from that.”
He said: “I’m someone you see on TV and give the veneer of being happy all the time but of course all of us have pain and problems and grief just below the surface.”
Lewis, 46, said he was talking about it because he is a patron of bereaved children’s charity Grief Encounter, which helps youngsters facing family loss, and was appearing on the show to support the channel’s campaign to fight loneliness.
“Things were done differently then,” he wrote in 2015, “so my sister and I didn’t have counselling. The scars from it are still so deep that even now, more than 30 years later, it is still painful for me to talk about.”
Not a dry eye in the studio as @MartinSLewis bravely opens up about losing his mum as a child ❤️
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) December 6, 2018
Earlier this year, he did his first interview on his mum on BBC Radio 5 Live but later said: “Doing the interview was far more costly emotionally than I had expected.”
“While it was the first time I’d spoken about it publicly in detail, I can’t actually ever remember it in that depth privately either. Even my wonderful wife learnt things about it from listening. So I found I was still reeling from doing it even a few days later.”
He said he was now working to ensure no other child went through what he went through, in an interview that left Garraway and Shephard struggling to hold back tears of their own.