Bucks Fizz singer Cheryl Baker is selling her £1.4million Kent cottage after the pandemic left her ‘broke’ and struggling to pay her taxes, forcing her to flog car and clothes
- Cheryl Baker has put the six-bedroom house near Tonbridge, Kent on the market
The singer – who won the Eurovision Song Contest with Bucks Fizz and went on to have a string of chart-topping hits with the group – has put the six bedroom cottage on the market in a last-ditch attempt to sort out her finances.
It comes after Cheryl, 69, revealed she had been left penniless by the pandemic when all her work dried up overnight and she ended up selling her possessions on eBay.
Cheryl told how she sold clothes, including her glamorous outfits, her car and started growing vegetables from a plot at the bottom of her garden to save on grocery bills.
Describing how she hit hard times Cheryl said: ‘I owe lots of tax… I physically haven’t got the money to pay anybody because I’m broke.’
Now she’s hoping to get back on track by selling the home she bought for £750,000 in November 2011 with bass player husband Steve Stroud, who has played in Sir Cliff Richard’s band.
The detached family house near Tonbridge, Kent, sits on the edge of a ‘sought-after picturesque village’ which features in ITV’s The Larkins, an adaptation of The Darling Buds of May.
The ‘charming’ 2,800 square foot property comes with a detached barn which has been fully renovated to create two holiday lets – and helped bring in some extra cash for the couple.
The main house’s ‘quirky’ living arrangements, described by estate agents Hamptons as ‘a flexible layout’, means that as well as a grand entrance hall, large modern kitchen, sitting room and dining room on the ground floor there are also four downstairs bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The house has two further bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor.
The layout came in handy during lockdown when the couple’s twin daughters Kyla and Natalie, 28, moved back home during the pandemic.
In its brochure Hamptons says of the property: ‘It is set in an idyllic semi-rural location while being in easy reach of the main towns.
‘The original 1930s home has been subject to a number of improvements in recent years including a new kitchen, toilet and bathrooms.
‘The accommodation is well presented and decorated in a modern style while retaining some original features such as wooden beams and floors.’
The property, which is surrounded by farmland, is set in nearly an acre of grounds which comprises a lawn, paddock, well-established flowerbeds, borders and a terrace.
There is also the vegetable garden cultivated by Cheryl along with an orchard with fruiting apples and pears.
Cheryl, who was born Rita Crudgington, grew up as one of five children in a council flat in Bethnal Green, East London, where money was always tight.
She has told how everything the family had including clothes, furniture and toys were secondhand and said she was teased at school ‘for being the poor kid’.
Cheryl hit the big time along with bandmates Jay Aston, 62, Mike Nolan, 68, and Bobby G, 69, when Bucks Fizz won the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest before topping the charts with Making Your Mind Up.
The group went on to sell more than 50 million records worldwide with a string of top 10 hits including two further number ones – The Land of Make Believe and My Camera Never Lies.
Cheryl has told how at the height of Bucks Fizz’s fame she splashed out on cars, designer clothes and a 32 ft boat while the group travelled the world first class and were ferried around in limos.
But it all fell apart when the group became embroiled in bitter in-fighting and financially draining legal disputes.
Cheryl now performs alongside Jay and Mike as The Fizz while Bobby, his wife and two other singers are ‘The Official Bucks Fizz’.
Cheryl’s group were performing 50 gigs a year at festivals, parties and 1980s nights when Covid struck and they had to postpone its Up Close and Personal tour.
She told OK! magazine: ‘We had one virtual gig and that was our only income. It’s been ridiculously hard.
‘It means that I haven’t worked for a year.
‘I owe lots of tax and VAT because I had a great year three years ago. But because I had that great year, I now can’t claim anything from the government. So, I’ve had to ring the VAT and tax people and say, ‘You’re going to have to put it on hold.’
‘But that’s the only thing I can do right now because I physically haven’t got the money to pay anybody because I’m broke. But I am well and that is far more important.’
Cheryl said she had to let her cleaner and gardener go and turn down the heating to save on energy bills.
In 2021 she said she no longer shopped online for anything other than essentials and could not justify popping down to their local pub for dinner.
She said friends and fans had offered to help her out but while thanking them for their support she insisted she didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her, or arranging whip rounds.
She said: ‘I have cut my cloth accordingly. I’m not destitute. I’m just struggling like so many people – and I’m in a much better position than a lot of them. There just isn’t any work.’
Cheryl told how she had cashed in all but one of her personal pensions and was receiving just £250 a month from the remaining one which topped up her £700-a-month state pension.
She even started performing £10-a-ticket ‘Covid gigs’ from her sitting room and charged £30 for the odd Happy Birthday video message.
Cheryl said: ‘I haven’t begged from anyone. Never in my life. I’ve never been on the dole, I’ve never asked for assistance from anybody and, if I’m not earning, I’ll find work somehow. I always do!’
The Fizz are now back on the road playing a series of gigs up and down the country since January with more lined up at Butlins’ holiday camps.
They also released a new album called Everything Under The Sun last September.
And last month, Cheryl began hosting a weekly lunchtime programme on Great British Radio. She also has a teatime Saturday show on the station which features the best of British artists from the 80s.