Jay Blades cancels another scheduled appearance as he continues to take ‘time out’

‘Repair Shop’ presenter is taking a step back as he deals with challenges in personal life

Ellie Muir
Thursday 30 May 2024 11:32 BST
The Repair Shop's Jay Blades quits social media after family member is 'murdered'

Jay Blades has cancelled a scheduled appearance at the Hay Festival as he “continues to take time out” while dealing with challenges in his personal life.

The furniture restorer, who is the face of the BBC’s sentimental restoration programme The Repair Shop, was due to speak to journalist Sarfraz Manzoor at the Welsh literary festival on Thursday about his book Life Lessons: Wisdom And Wit From Life’s Ups And Downs, in which he shares inspirational words for making the very best of life.

However, after a period of upheaval in his personal life, Blades, 54, announced he will not be appearing at the literary festival as he continues to take a break from working. In April, his wife Lisa Zbozen announced that she was leaving him.

The news came shortly after Blades revealed his uncle Richard Brathwaite had been killed.

In a post to his fans, Blades said Brathwaite’s death had “really affected” him and announced a break from social media – and told The Independent he was planning to see a counsellor.

A statement from his team said: "We wanted to confirm that as Jay Blades continues to take time out, he won’t be attending the session as advertised at this year’s Hay Festival.

"We’re sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment that this may have caused and we hope you enjoy the rest of the festival."

Blades has previously said he was seeking therapy after facing challenges in his personal life
Blades has previously said he was seeking therapy after facing challenges in his personal life (Getty)

The festival confirmed that ticket holders will be refunded.

Blades’s spokesperson told The Independent earlier this month that he would be taking an extended break from the BBC’s Repair Shop. Filming on the new series has since commenced without Blades at the Weald and Downland Living Museum in Chichester, West Sussex.

In announcing his step back, Blades said he was taking a social media hiatus following the death of his uncle, saying he was taking time off to "take stock and just relax", but confirmed he would be "back soon".

It comes after the breakdown of his marriage to Zbozen, whom he married in the grounds of a beachfront villa in Barbados in November 2022.

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The TV star first found fame on the restoration programme, which sees members of the public take worn-out family heirlooms to be restored by a team of experts.

Blades found fame on the popular furniture restoration programme
Blades found fame on the popular furniture restoration programme (Getty)

In an interview with The Independent, Blades said The Repair Shop saved his life after he secured the presenting gig following an acute mental health crisis and an attempted suicide.

He said the show, which sees craftspeople from around the country restore family heirlooms that have sentimental value, is helping others show their emotions.

“Especially with men, we’ve created a culture where to show your vulnerability is to become a victim,” he said, stating: “I used to believe that when I was growing up in Hackney, that you had to be this tough guy, as I was growing up in a very tough environment.”

After highlighting the high suicide rate among British men, which is the leading cause of death among men under 50, Blades said: “Why is that? Because a lot of men are struggling with stuff and they don’t know how to express that.”

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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