Celebrity weather presenter Laura Tobin made an impromptu visit to Ely Cathedral today to make the most of the gorgeous Fen backdrops from the 215ft (66m) tall West Tower.
Speaking exclusively to Spotted in Ely, the broadcast meteorologist said her team chose the hottest day of the year so far to return to Ely, to make the most of its beautiful landscape and the cathedral’s vantage point.
“My editor comes from not too far away from here. When the weather is nice we go somewhere high to celebrate it. He always says, ‘Laura, if we have a blue sky day, lets go to Ely’. Finally we have summer.”
Today’s heatwave is caused by warm air blowing over from Africa via Spain and France, but thunderstorms are forecast to hit Britain tonight.
With sunrise expected at 5am this morning, cameraman Jonathan Parsons lugged his gear up 288 stairs to the West Tower of Ely Cathedral at 4.10am. Laura arrived a short time afterwards to present the weather live for popular ITV breakfast show, Good Morning Britain.
Although the mercury’s expected to peak at a whopping 32 Celsius, it’s not the hottest July day on record. That happened on July 1 last year, when temperatures reached a scorching 36.7 Celsius at Heathrow Airport.
Laura, who gave a special shout out to Spotted in Ely fans during today’s broadcast, said: “I tried to fry an egg on a slide and it didn’t work.”
Watched by schoolchildren at a nearby play park, she said the egg just slipped down the slide, much to everyone’s amusement.
Originally from Northampton, 34-year-old Laura joined the show, then called Daybreak, four years ago.
Before that she presented the weather during the BBC’s coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.
Despite being a seasoned professional, she still gets nervous before presenting live, and enjoys being given crazy challenges and surprise locations.
“There’s nowhere I wouldn’t go. I’m up for anything.”
Recently she was put through an assault course live on air, where she had to crawl through a mud tunnel before presenting the weather.
“I was freezing cold and wet.”
Laura recalls presenting the weather in Stamford in Lincolnshire in minus 10 Celsius three years ago.
“It was dark and we couldn’t stop shivering. When it’s like that you forget that it could ever be really warm again.”
One time the crew went to Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall – a place Laura fondly recalls from her childhood.
“We walked down to the sea. The tide started to come in. I couldn’t run quickly enough!”
Luckily a colleague was on hand to give Laura a piggy back.
A former meteorologist for the Royal Air Force, based at RAF Brize Norton, Laura was the first member of the public to ride on the Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers when it opened.
“It was just me on my own. I did the weather at 6.30. I ran off to do the ride strapped up with a Go Pro. I came back for the 7am weather and my hand was shaking.”
Unusually, Laura had her career all mapped out from when she was a teenager.
“I was really lucky when I was 14. I knew I wanted to be a weather forecaster.”
She studied maths and physics at school, knowing that these were essential to becoming a meteorologist.
“I hated physics at first at A Level but then loved it so much I did it at university. It’s great for problem solving.”
Laura encourages more girls to study science at university, adding that it opens up many opportunities. She frequently goes into schools to promote science to children.
She studied Physics and Meteorology at Reading University, graduating 13 years ago. Last week she returned to her alma mater to receive the prestigious Alumni of the Year award.
Hugely competitive, Laura has a twin brother called Mark, who works for Amazon, and has appeared as a contestant on The Chase and Drive.
The only part of her job that Laura struggles with is the very early wake up call.
“I’m a night owl, I’m really not a morning person at all,” she admits.
“When I was at university I was always the last one up. On a Saturday I lie in till midday.”