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Paddy Gower on his new shot at life

The TV star practised tea and sympathy while covering the historic royal event

A year ago, if Patrick Gower found himself boarding a plane last-minute to London with a bunch of fellow Kiwi journalists, set to cover the biggest news story of the year, he’d have slipped a few UK pub sessions into his itinerary.

Today, though, nine months sober and working 20-hour days on the ground covering Queen Elizabeth’s death, the award-winning journalist is fuelled by adrenaline and the odd Coke Zero instead.

“It’s very different for me,” admits Paddy, chatting to the Weekly from his hotel, a 30-minute cab ride from Buckingham Palace. “Obviously, there’s the pub culture here in the UK, which is cool, but it’s not much use to a non-drinker.

“In the past, I would’ve used alcohol to cope with the long days and early mornings on the trip. Having a drink to let off steam or celebrate something good you’re doing with your journalism has been normal to me, so this is the first big trip where I’m not drinking.”

Waking up at 5am each morning after news-gathering the day prior, Paddy hopped in a cab and headed to Buckingham Palace. Then it was through security lines and straight to his media spot for a live cross to New Zealand’s 6pm news.

During his time overseas, the Three reporter visited Edinburgh to cover the Queen going past crowds on a hearse, where Paddy saw the Scottish crown rested on her coffin and King Charles following.

“My camera operator and I had to stand on the same cobblestone together for three hours, blocked by people everywhere waiting for the Queen’s hearse to come past, but it was amazing to see,” says Paddy, who worked as a journalist in London on his big OE during his twenties, writing for a specialist defence publication.

“It was one of the most special days of my life. Kids were on dads’ shoulders and people hung out windows, and you could hear carriages and horses clip-clopping up the cobblestone streets. There’s that weight of history around and when you’ve got 100,000 people paying their respects, you can feel it.”

Another highlight was visiting a small town in Yorkshire, where Paddy sat in a seat the King once occupied when he was Prince Charles, and drank the same tea as the royal, named Yorkshire Gold.

“Then I went into a small wool shop and found out he has been buying Swaledale sheep-wool gloves there for over 30 years,” tells Paddy, whose favourite royal is Harry. “They’re the size of oven mitts and he likes them so much, he bought Camilla a pair, so both at some point wear very large, hand-crocheted warm gloves.”

The former political reporter admits that while he didn’t arrive in London an avid royal follower, he’s become a bit of a royalist since being immersed in the commemorations.

“To look at the balcony out the front of Buckingham Palace and know you won’t see the Queen outside there ever again is a really surreal feeling.”

Upon his return home, Paddy’s straight into the launch of his newest documentary Patrick Gower: On Cyber Crime, streaming on Three Now. Covering the human cost of cybercrime, the eye-opening doco explores topics like the dark web, where Kiwis can easily access guns and cocaine. It also highlights identity theft, business hacking and romance scams.

“Cybercrime can seem very far away, but people are getting ripped off left, right and centre by thieves on the internet,” says Paddy, whose work and cycling fill much of his spare time now he’s not drinking. “I talk to a lonely, retired widower who was victim of a romance scam, who not only loses her savings but has her heart broken.”

Set to celebrate a year’s sobriety on December 18, Paddy says 2022 has felt like a fresh start. “Giving up alcohol has been the best decision I ever made. I’m so much calmer and in touch with myself,” he enthuses.

“I love the mornings, but initially I got these phantom hangovers where I’d wake up on a Saturday or Sunday and think I was hungover,” he laughs. “Then I’d realise, ‘No you’re not, you didn’t drink last night!’ I think it’s because my body had become used to me waking up and not feeling that great.”

Recently, at a charity auction, Paddy bought an abstract piece of art that depicted the daybreak.

“I’d never bought art or intended on buying anything, but I saw it was about the morning and thought it kind of summarises what I’m going through,” he explains. “When you don’t drink, the mornings are just so fantastic again. It’s like you’re experiencing a new beginning, a new shot at life, and it felt pretty symbolic.”

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