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Brian McFadden - “I followed my heart to Rochdale”

PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 September 2018

Brian McFadden and Danielle Parkinson, a PE teacher at a Rochdale high school

Brian McFadden and Danielle Parkinson, a PE teacher at a Rochdale high school

Roger Kenny

Former Westlife star Brian McFadden is loving his new life in the Lancashire countryside, writes Paul Mackenzie.

Brian McFadden and Keith DuffyBrian McFadden and Keith Duffy

As a member of Westlife, Brian McFadden was mobbed by adoring fans wherever he went. They were one of the most successful boybands in British musical history, touring the world, playing to sell-out crowds and selling more than 55 million records.

After releasing their first single, Swear it Again, in April 1999, they had 12 UK and Ireland number ones, including a record breaking seven top spots in a row and four number one albums.

Brian’s first two marriages were celebrity magazine dreams; to the former Atomic Kitten Kerry Katona and then to model Vogue Williams. He was also engaged to Australian singer and actor Delta Goodrem, but now Brian is leading a rather less showbizzy life in the Lancashire countryside.

He plays golf – on the day we speak he’s just won a tournament and is expecting his handicap to drop to eight – and loves spending time at home with his partner, a PE teacher at a Rochdale high school.

He and Danielle Parkinson live a quiet life in the countryside just outside the town and Brian couldn’t be happier.

‘I followed my heart to Rochdale,’ he said. ‘I came here because she was here but I can’t see us leaving Rochdale any time soon. I love it here.

‘She copes very well with it all, it doesn’t bother her. We’re just normal people. It’s different to when I was in Westlife, it’s not as manic. We’re just doing a couple of gigs a week so it’s a lot easier to live a normal life.’

The couple met through mutual friends and have been together for two years but he rubbished reports in the national press that he was planning his third wedding. ‘We have no plans to marry yet,’ he insisted.

‘We just lead a normal life, pretty much the same as everyone else. We go to work, come home, cook diner, watch television, go to the movies. Yes, people stop me and say hello or ask for photos sometimes but I don’t go out to pubs.

If we’re going out, we go somewhere quiet that we know. To be honest, though, we spend most of our time at home. When you’re travelling and on tour a lot it’s nice just to be at home.

‘Where we live is just outside Rochdale and it’s very quiet. I lived in London for years and I’ve lived in New York and other major cities and there was never silence. Here, it’s lovely to go to bed and hear nothing and to wake up and just hear the birds.

‘Another big part of the reason I love living here is that I’m a Manchester United fan and it’s great not to have to fly in to Manchester or get a train here. I can just drive from home and be at Old Trafford in 25 minutes.’

Brian – he spelled it Bryan during his time with the boyband, reportedly because it made it easier to sign autographs – left Westlife in 2004 to concentrate on his family and his solo career which , includes the UK number one ‘Real to Me’. He’s recently put the finishing touches to his first solo album, Otis, which will be out in October. ‘It’s my tribute to Otis Redding,’ he said. ‘I’m such a huge fan of his and it’s my re-imaginings of some of his songs.’

He’s also on tour with former Boyzone singer Keith Duffy, performing many of their biggest hits and entertaining audiences with chat and stories from their time as chart-topping boyband heartthrobs.

‘It’s 20 years since the first Westlife single came out and not many people can say they’ve spent 20 years in this business. Now, after all my years in Westlife and ten years as a solo artist it’s a whole bag of fun being on the road with Keith.’

With Boyzone, Keith Duffy had five number one albums, six UK number one singles and 16 out of 17 of their first single releases reached the top five. He has also appeared in acting roles, most notably as Ciaran McCarthy in Coronation Street. The pair have performed together as Boyzlife since 2016 and their October tour includes dates in Manchester and Preston.

Brian added: ‘It doesn’t seem like work at all, we travel, we sing, we play a hell of a lot of golf and we have a real laugh. We’re still performing and sounding good, but it’s so much more enjoyable.

‘There’s none of the stress of travelling the world and being away from your family for months on end. We put things in the diary to make it fun and after years of days spent working from 6am to 2am with interviews and photo shoots and whatever else, it’s great to be doing this.’ 

The Boyzlife tour comes to Manchester’s Club Academy on October 10 and Preston Guild Hall on October 12. Tickets, which cost from £28.50, are available from the box office, on 0844 249 1000, For more information, go online to

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