Why I will never be a father

~ The Daily Mirror, 31/10/1999 by Jonathan Hayter ~

Parachuting accident left him impotent

SINGER Michael Ball has spoken of his secret sadness - he can never know the joys of being a father following a tragic accident when he was a teenager.

The 37-year-old star of the hit musicals Les Miserables and Aspects Of Love suffered appalling injuries when he took part in a charity parachute jump.

"I was going to earth at four times the speed I was meant to and got dragged along the floor," he recalled. He was 18 at the time but his injuries - a ruptured groin and internal bleeding - were to lead to a series of operations over four years and a reluctance to share with girls the grim truth that he was impotent.

Michael said: "It was very difficult to come to terms with. I was so embarrassed by what had happened to me down below that I didn't tell anyone for six months.

"All I ever thought was, 'Will I ever be normal?'

"I didn't feel adequate to be with the rest of the lads running with all the girls.

"I didn't have a sexual relationship for more than four years."

Feeling an outcast, Michael channelled all his creative energies into his singing career.

The knowledge of his problem was made all the more painful after he found love with Cathy McGowan, 51.

Former Sixties mod queen Cathy has been his partner for the past ten years.

He said: "She taught me not to feel like a freak. She made me feel attractive for me, not for being Mr Entertainment.

"I love my home, I love the normality of my life with Cathy."

Her daughter Emma by former husband Hywel Bennett has just had a son, Connor.

A delighted Michael said: "I never thought a baby was going to come into my life in any shape or form - let alone one I was going to be so close to."

Michael also revealed how he once turned to drink and drugs in a desperate cry for help.

He used to have panic attacks on stage during his performances and quit Les Mis when he could not cope.

Nine months later he was back in Phantom of the Opera but heavy drinking turned him into a recluse and he could not go on stage without taking betablocker pills to calm down.

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