Because Carol Vorderman was born “a girl, not a boy” she couldn’t join the RAF as a teenager.
Now, 40 years after her youthful ambitions to train as a pilot were quashed, the mum-of-two is training for her solo flight around the world next year. Equally exciting, her 22-year-old daughter Katie - who recently gained a first in physics at Cambridge University, where she is now doing her Master’s - is also completing her RAF training.
Recently, the presenter, who made her name as Channel 4’s resident mathematical whizz on Countdown, a position she held for 26 years until 2008, took to the skies to meet Katie for lunch in Cambridge.
Although she can never be a fast jet pilot - because at 53, she’s too old to “learn the skills” - Vorderman, who got her pilot licence last December, isn’t resentful of being turned away from the RAF when she was Katie’s age.
“It’s just the way it is,” she says with a shrug.
She is keen to avoid taking on too much, and becoming a “complete workaholic, which is what I was for many years,” she admits.
“I get lots and lots of offers for all sorts of things, all the time. I say no to the vast majority, and then yes to certain things,” she adds.
As well as downsizing her house, she has “sadly” given up her seat on the Loose Women panel.
“I was finding I was in London four nights a week, and I can’t do it,” she confides.
One of the things that Vorderman couldn’t give up, though, is hosting the annual Daily Mirror Pride Of Britain Awards, which celebrates ordinary people’s extraordinary achievements.
This year’s are due to be televised on October 7 and, typically, the awards, which started in 1999, feature a range of inspiring stories, from people who’ve raised substantial amounts of money for charity, to those who’ve defied all odds to do something incredible.
Being part of the annual awards is a good reminder to count her blessings.
“[The show does really make you feel differently about people]. It’s quite a jolt, actually,” she says.
As for Vorderman, her fondness for Pride Of Britain is quite simple. “I love meeting the winners and their families,” she says. “Quite a lot of the winners have seen Pride Of Britain, because it’s been on for so long now. And they know I care about it, so it’s not like we’re turning up, taking the money and running. I love it.
“It’s a celebration, and that’s key.”
l The Daily Mirror Pride Of Britain Awards is on ITV on Tuesday, October 7.