TV presenter who was married in Caithness comes out as gay
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AS news of TV presenter Phillip Schofield coming out as gay hit the headlines, many in Caithness will recall when he tied the knot at Ackergill Tower nearly 27 years ago.
The 57-year-old, who presents ITV programmes including This Morning and Dancing On Ice alongside Holly Willoughby, made the announcement via a statement posted on his Instagram account on Friday.
"Today, quite rightly, being gay is a reason to celebrate and be proud," he wrote.
"Yes, I am feeling pain and confusion, but that comes only from the hurt that I am causing to my family."
When Phillip married Stephanie Lowe at Ackergill Tower on March 29, 1993, he was a presenter of the BBC children's programme Going Live and was star of the hit West End musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
His marriage to Stephanie, who also worked for the BBC, attracted the attention of the nation's paparazzi with many swooping in to try and catch a piece of the action at the 15th-century castle.
Reporters and photographers hovered in the trees outside waiting for a photo opportunity which was destined not to happen.
The wedding was reported to have cost over £22,000, with an additional £7000 said to have been splashed out on a private jet to fly the guests to Wick.
While many tabloids announced that Phillip had swapped his dreamcoat for a kilt, he was reported to have worn a blue Armani suit, and his bride chose an off-the-peg wedding dress from Liberty.
Only 15 guests attended the wedding, including former Radio 1 DJ Peter Powell.
After the ceremony the wedding party sat down to enjoy a Scottish feast in the baronial dining room. Haggis was piped in, with Wick man Eric Farquhar giving the address.
All the guests later enjoyed a grand ceilidh with music provided by local artistes, including members of the Wick RBLS Pipe Band.
The wedding party were also treated to a song from Phillip himself when he sang Any Dream Will Do from the hit musical he was starring in at the time.
Conducting the ceremony was the Rev Alistair Roy, the former minister of Wick Bridge Street Church. Mr Roy described the occasion as "unique" and said it was the first time he had officiated at the wedding of a celebrity.
"I was very pleased to be involved in it," Mr Roy said, adding that in his view it was a compliment to Caithness that the couple had decided to travel to the area to be married.
The minister said there had been a number of media representatives waiting outside the Tower in the wind and rain, and he thought Phillip had made a nice gesture when he decided to send some whisky out to help keep the press pack warm.
Ackergill Tower – a former luxury hotel – is now the private home of American millionaire Betsee Parker, an Episcopalian church minister.
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