SoCal Val may be a household name in American wrestling, but she’s found a home and love all the way across the pond in Milton Keynes, writes Liam Andrews.
Valerie Wyndham has been in the sport since three days after her 16th birthday, but has come a long way since then – both literally and metaphorically.
After 13 years making a name for herself with TNA Wrestling as a ring announcer, manager, model and occasional wrestler, she moved to the UK where she works for FITE TV, covering MMA, boxing and wrestling.
But there was no plan to make the move to Milton Keynes, until Cupid stepped in.
Valerie, who declined the chance to pose nude for a Playboy centrefold in 2006, said: “My sister lives in England, that’s what brought me to London. I’d been visiting London for seven or eight years.
“Since I was a child I’ve always been obsessed with British culture, I love the history, I love Downton Abbey.
“It gave me the excuse to come here for myself and see the museums, buildings, art and everything I wanted to see.
“Two years ago I was doing an autograph signing at the MK Dons stadium and a friend of mine was there, and said I had to go to this award-winning pub and I remember thinking ‘it’s really late, I want a Subway’.
“But thank God I didn’t go to Subway because I came into The Crooked Billet in Newton Longville and I met Alan Ayres who owns it and we hit it off.”
Valerie explained how their love blossomed over time – culminating in the pair getting engaged in December.
“We were friends, I’d visit every few months, we’d hang out and then I thought this is just magical, we should be more than friends. And now we are, we were girlfriend and boyfriend for a while then Alan popped the question last month so of course I said yes!”
After living in huge cities such as Orlando and Los Angeles, fashionista Valerie – from Southern California – says Milton Keynes is one of the only places she could see herself living for the rest of her life.
“I was scheduled to go to Milton Keynes and Cardiff and I was told ‘Milton Keynes is full of roundabouts, but Cardiff will be much more fun’.
“But Milton Keynes was the most fun. I went to the shopping centre and there’s nothing you can’t find in there, it’s amazing.
“I love The Hub, I love Be At One. There’s a lot I want to try, I haven’t joined a gym yet, I haven’t joined a yoga studio yet.
“I lived in LA and I loved it, but I don’t think I could ever live in a huge city like that again. In Milton Keynes, there’s always something to do, it’s close enough to London that if you want the hustle and bustle you’ve got it.
“It’s such a beautiful city, you get the beautiful countryside that I used to see in postcards as a kid. There’s a lot of events here too and I think that’s really neat.
“It’s all the perks of a big city without the frantic pace that I find too much. It’s easy to get to everything and I don’t drive here yet so if I can walk to pretty much wherever I want to go then it’s pretty damn cool! And of course Stony Stratford’s adorable, I love that area.
“There’s not many cities I could say I could see myself living there forever but I really do like MK that much!”
We’re delighted to reveal that Valerie will be joining the Celebrate:MK team from next month as a fashion columnist. Until then, you can join her 145,000 followers on Twitter at @SoCalValerie and read her personal fashion blog at http://www.valeriewyndham.com/fashion