We love hearing about people doing their bit to help animals
And this week we’re so excited to be chatting to Hollyoaks actress Tamara Wall.
Tamara plays gangster Grace Black in the Channel 4 show and has won countless award nominations including Best Actress and Best Bitch.
Her character thinks nothing of bumping people off who get in her way and she’s currently plotting to kill her emotionally abusive hubby Glenn Donovan.
But in real life she couldn’t be more different. When she’s not working, she loves spending time with her two rescue cats Luna and Wispa and she recently got engaged to business consultant boyfriend Gareth Jones, 45.
A self confessed Crazy Cat Lady, Tamara, 41, is a Patron of Liverpool animal sanctuary Rescue Me who rehome abandoned pets, and that’s where she adopted her own cats.
She spoke to us about her work with the shelter, her gritty storylines and how seeing him with her kitties helped her realise Gareth was ‘The One.’
Tamara as glam gangster Grace Black in Hollyoaks (Image: Channel 4)
Thanks so much for taking time to chat to us Tamara, we hear you’re a bit of a crazy cat lady?
Yes, I've always had cats as a child, my mum and dad always had cats. I just can't imagine a life without a cat to be honest. I always say when I'm old, if I'm still on my own, I will be that woman whose got 20 cats. They keep you sane don’t they?
I do find myself going insane though too. So many times I'm in the house on my own and I am actually holding full conversations with my cats and I think, ‘What are you doing?’
That sounds completely normal - and you’re involved with Rescue Me?
Yes, they got in touch about four years ago and said they had a kitten sanctuary and were trying to raise money.
Steph Taylor, the lady who set it up, works in a vet surgery, so she always had somewhere to take the cats, and the vet cared for them free of charge but the animals were in her house.
They contacted me as they needed a premises so they had somewhere to house all the cats and the dogs as they’d started helping them too and didn’t have any room.
So I said: "Absolutely, if it means I get to come squeeze those kittens all the time are you crazy? I definitely want to help!”
That was four years ago and we've raised £400,000 and bought a farm in Crosby, Liverpool, which is currently being turned into a big cat and dog sanctuary.
It's doing absolutely brilliantly and I'm dead, dead proud of it. It's amazing.
They’re so dedicated. Whenever I visit I want to take all the animals home. They’ve got a Doberman pup who is only six weeks old and was found starving on the streets.
Steph took him home and brought him back to life. She’s just incredible.
Tamara loves her work as an ambassador for Rescue Me animal sanctuary
You adopted your cats from there too?
Yes, I have two Siamese cats Luna and Wispa. We called Wispa her name as she was so quiet when she meowed, but now she’s so loud. Both her and Luna, it’s like they talk. They sound like little Gremlins!
They’re sisters and were handed in by an old lady. Her cat had had kittens and she brought them into the Rescue Me sanctuary and said, 'I don't know what you're going to do with them. Obviously you'll get rid of that little black one very easy but as for these weird little ones I don't know what you do.’
And Steph who runs it said, 'I know exactly who to call.' So, she rang me and said, 'You might want to come down here, there's a few kittens that you might like,' and literally as soon as I saw them I knew I couldn’t live without them. They’re amazing.
Tamara's gorgeous Siamese rescue cats Wispa and Luna
You recently got engaged to your boyfriend Gareth, can you tell us how you met?
I got set up by a friend, Rachel, one of the girls in the show, earlier this year.
I was 41, and couldn’t remember the last time I’d been on a date and I don’t know how she managed to change my mind but she did.
I don't think I've ever been so nervous in my life, more than for any audition. I had to get ready at my friend’s house - it was like I was getting ready for prom, it was ridiculous, so ridiculous. I curled my hair which I never, ever, ever, do.
Gareth took me to the Panoramic 34 restaurant in Liverpool - one of the UK’s highest restaurants which 34 storeys high. He said, 'I'll meet you in the bar at the top.’
I was so nervous, in the lift and literally wanting to stop and get out, I was like, 'No, I can't do it.’
And then I got there and within half an hour we were holding hands, it was just ridiculous.
Rachel said, 'This is unreal, I just can't believe how perfect you are for each other.’
Wow, and then he proposed in June! That’s amazing!
Yes, four months later he got down on one knee. My mum always said to me you won't meet the love of your life until you're in your 40s and I hate to say she's always right but she always is, again!
He's met all the family now and they love him. There's always that kind of thing where you go, 'Is it just me, is it just me, you know. Do I just think, maybe he's not that great.’
Literally, everyone laughs at him. He came to the Soap Awards afterparty and everyone was like, 'Oh my god he's so lovely.' So, yeah, he's a dream. That's him.
Tamara and Gareth announce their engagement!
He sounds like a lovely guy, and how does he get on with Wispa and Luna?
Well luckily he is a cat person. When you live on your own your cats are your best friends. I told him about them straight away of course and after we’d been together for two months he asked me to move in, so I panicked a bit and thought, 'I've got to bring the cats. How is this going to work?’
He was so amazing. He said, 'Absolutely, I will come now and get the cats with you.’ So we went and picked them up and he moved them in - they moved in before I did!
I worried at first about how they’d settle. One day they started hissing at each other and I was thinking, 'Oh my god they're never going to forgive me.’
But Gareth was so calm. He said, 'You just have to let them just settle and they will work it out for themselves,' and then obviously he was right.
After a couple of weeks they were climbing on everything and in the bed. He’s just great with them.
Oh that is so brilliant. Did seeing him being so lovely with them kind of cement your feelings for him?
Massively, my pets are so important and you get scared when you meet someone that they won’t feel the same, they'll think its silly or stupid. They won’t realise that when you had your pets you were alone so they are everything to you.
But without any hesitation Gareth brought the cats in, let them sleep in bed, didn’t flinch when they were scratching the furniture! I knew he must really love me as he opened up his home to two really naughty furry things.
Tamara says Gareth is a doting pawrent to her two cats!
Aw, so how does your life compare to your character Grace’s?
She is the total opposite of me - it's crazy playing a character having the worst love life ever while I was in the midst of getting engaged. That's what makes playing her just crazy fun.
I literally could not have wished for a better character to play. She can be funny, she can be sad, she's also really scary. She kills people but she's got heart. I get to do so many good scenes and they're all completely different - I love it.
It’s brilliant you’re helping Rescue Me as well. What can people do if they’d like to help?
They can donate to the Rescue Me website and they have an Amazon Wishlist with items they need at www.rescueme.org.uk/donate
If anyone is in Liverpool and they’d like to give food that is always really helpful, feeding is a huge expense so every little bit counts.
People can go and help with jobs around the centre, from gardening to caring for the animals and I would always say if you’re looking for a pet, please consider a rescue and you can find out the animals available on the website www.rescueme.org.uk
If you enjoyed reading about pets and relationships, you might enjoy How our pets could be the key to us finding the perfect partner or How our pets can help our mental health.