Jo and Leah Wood reveal how country life has helped them heal after 'the most difficult year'
Jo and Leah Wood have taken part in an exclusive photoshoot and interview at Jo's grade II-listed farmhouse in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside.
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Leah, her husband Jack MacDonald and their two children Maggie, 12, and seven-year-old Otis, left central London to move into their own property nearby a year ago and they love being so close to Jo, the former wife of Rolling Stones star Ronnie.
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"It's great to be near Mum, for us all to sit around the table for meals and go swimming in the pond with the kids," says Leah, 42. "We have so much space and feel more relaxed than ever before. What's more, it's so important for the kids to grow up in the fresh air, surrounded by fields and trees."
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The healing power of country life has never been more relevant for the family than now. The former Strictly Come Dancing contestant, who has just relaunched her Jo Wood Organics bath and body range, seemed to lead a charmed life until a series of disasters struck at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic "We've just been through the most difficult year of our lives," says Jo. "The hardest thing was being strong for everyone else and not falling to pieces. As a family we supported each other. We held hands and said: 'Let's do this. We will get through it and come out on top'."
Jo's grade II-listed farmhouse is in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside
In April 2020, Otis was diagnosed with a serious illness. This followed the devastating news that Jo's younger brother, the world-famous artist Paul Karslake, had died at 61 of heart failure after contracting Covid-19, then sister Lize caught the virus, too. "I never imagined anything like this would happen to us," says Leah. "When it did, my only thought was to save my son."
Meanwhile Leah's father, Rolling Stones rocker Ronnie, 74 was diagnosed in lockdown with small-cell carcinoma, from which he was recently given the all-clear.
Leah recalls the unbearable stress they endured. "Everything bombed on us at once, and I didn't think I could take much more. It was a real test of character, a huge learning curve. I learnt a lot about myself and have come out of it a stronger person."
The duo have spoken about their difficult year
Jo was her steadfast rock of support throughout. "I had to be strong for Leah and Maggie," she recalls. "I said: 'Come on Leah, you've got to get through this and be there for your boy.' She did and she was great."
After Otis's final course of treatment, he made a full recovery and was allowed home last August. "He went through such a tough time, but is thriving now," says Leah. "He's taught us a lot about how precious life is. He’s our little miracle and every time I look at him, I thank God."