Ricky Martin, winner of the 2012 The Apprentice, is a business leader, biochemist, and a busy dad, and soon he and his wife Gemma will be welcoming a sister for their two-year-old son Alexander.
We caught up with Ricky who chose to store Alexander’s umbilical cord blood and tissue with Biovault Family and will also be storing their new baby girl’s stem cells with us.
Ricky and Gemma hope to raise umbilical stem cell awareness so that more parents have the opportunity to store their own babies’ cord blood and tissue.
Congratulations on the imminent birth of your second child.
How are you all?
Thank you. We are all well and a great mix of excited, nervous and curious all in one while we wait for the arrival of the next addition to our household. This time around it is a little girl, so Alexander has a big job to step up to being a big brother and protecting his little sister (as does his dad as the father of a daughter to be).
Alexander will be two in November. What does he think of having a new baby sister?
We have explained to Alexander (AJ as we refer to him which is short for “Alexander James” Martin) what he has to look forward to, but being as young as he is, I cannot say he fully comprehends it yet.
That said, we have finally got him to say “baby” every time we point to his mum’s belly, which he finds hilarious, so much so, he is constantly pulling up his top, my top, his mum’s top and says baby non-stop. Hopefully, long term, he realises that somebody’s stomach isn’t called a baby, it is just his mum’s had a baby in it while we taught him the word 😊
Life is going to be very busy with two children under two years old! Have you picked up any good tips for new parents?
Great question, however, the reality is not really. I think the best piece of advice every parent of two very young children has given us is ‘Good Luck’! The funny thing is everybody said that the first time also!
As a result we have stopped asking and figured what will be will be. The one thing we have done to prepare is to make sure AJ’s new “big boy” room is all set up ready to transfer him to when out little girl moves to the nursery, and he graduates to his dinosaur adventure room.
How have you found your first two years as new parents?
The first two years has been like a fun rollercoaster we will never forget. Ups, downs, twists, thrills, laughs, cries, it had it all. We both definitely think the last two years have aged us by about five. However, what an experience it has been which has brought a new sense of living to our worlds.
It has grounded us for sure (before we went wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted without thought). However, the purpose, love and new world it has opened up to us has been nothing but incredible. It hasn’t been easy, but nothing in life worth having ever is. We feel so lucky to have AJ in our world.
Alexander was born after four rounds of IVF, and your second child has been a very happy surprise. How did you feel when you discovered you were pregnant again?
No fertility journey is straight forward and after the years of battling to have our first child, and almost giving up on occasions, the surprise when things happened naturally with our second came as one big surprise.
It’s one which of course we are extremely grateful for, and we realise how lucky we are. Only three years ago we thought we would never get to be called parents at all, let alone twice over, and now we’ll have one of each to enjoy and guide in the world.
Lots of people said to us after AJ came in to the world that the chances are if we had another it would be natural.
However, even hearing that after fighting so hard the first time it did not provide confidence. So when we found out, the surprise was just as big and just as miraculous and one we still cannot fully comprehend today.
IVF can be very difficult for couples and you were very open about your own journey which has inspired other couples. Why do you feel this is important?
A fertility journey is a lonely and tough one at the best of times. That is before you even need to look for help from someone or somewhere reliable online. We really hope, and still do today, that any parts of our fertility story can help others and build some form of confidence; or at least provide insight to the fact people are not alone. Every single day there are millions of people on the journey, and the more people can do to talk to likeminded people or read and share their experience, the better for everyone.
We’re so pleased you’ve chosen to bank your new baby’s umbilical cord blood with Biovault Family. Why did you choose us again?
The simple answer we have here would be why would we not! That is not supposed to sound like a sell to anybody reading this but, the first time around you made the entire process simple, easy and not labour intensive at all (excuse the reference to labour ☹). I run a service company and the one thing I value more than anything is exceptional service. Biovault made us part of the family and provided just that.
Why do you think banking your baby’s cord blood is important?
I feel banking cord blood is so important and now I have had one child, I feel more strongly about this than ever. I now have a son who I would do anything to protect, support and provide for. If one day he needed some medical intervention to support his well being I would do everything in my power to ensure he got this.
Banking cord blood gives me one way I could do that. When we had AJ the logic in me said this made sense, as it would help if the worse case happened (which of course we hope we would not need it for). However, now the parent in me says this is an absolute no brainer.
Newborn cell banking remains unfamiliar and misunderstood in this country. Why do you think this is?
I think this is because most things in the scientific or medical field tend to turn people off as without a triple PhD most people do feel less certain about what it all means. Compound this with a newborn baby and I can see why people are unfamiliar or don’t want to understand more because their focus is on their baby.
The reality is I don’t think it needs to be complicated or misunderstood. I can’t say many people know the inner workings of insurance and how things are priced or assessed. Most people do not want to have to use it either as it means you have had a claim and things are serious. That said we all take insurance for that new car we buy. So why not do it for our newborn, which we cannot simply replace, repair or give back. Why not give our child the chance of critical media care if we one day need it? And the best thing is the price you pay for the service does not last a year – it is for decades!
As a scientist yourself, how important is it to help spread awareness of umbilical cord blood banking?
As a scientist I have always been fascinated with how things work and how things can be done better. Umbilical core blood banking is a simple way we can provide our child, children or even provide some support to parent (as such banking is 50% compatible with each parent) future medical protection. Why would somebody not want to give their family the best form of future care and this is a simple way of doing so. To spread awareness provides support for more people to follow suit, and hopefully live a better live, if the unexpected happens one day.
Do you think this service should be more widely accessible?
I would love to see the service more widely available. As I have already referred to car insurance and protecting your shiny new vehicle, why shouldn’t we all protect and have some the most important part of our worlds. There is nothing more special than a child, and making it more available will only support every child’s future.
Having won The Apprentice in 2012, you are now one of the most successful Apprentice winners. Can we ask, what is the secret to your success?
It is funny you ask as it is so long ago that I forget I was even part of the process. That may sound like an odd thing to say but day to day life runs away with all of us, especially when running an international business and being father to a young family.
Success is measured by so many things and likely a few years ago I would have said absolutely, I am the most successful winner based on company finances, performance, scope, scale and sustainability, however today you would get a different response. For me being able to grow a multi-site company while going through a fertility journey with my wife, then becoming a dad with no local family network to support, and successfully guiding AJ through the first 2 years of his life, that to me is successful. If that means I am the most successful winner… then yes I am 😉
And finally, many of our friends would love to know, what is it like working with Sir Alan Sugar?
I would love to spoil the illusion and tell people the reality is different to what they see on TV and we are the best of friends who cinema on weekends and chit chat over WhatsApp, however the TV and the day to day Lord Sugar (yep I am still saying Lord Sugar) are one and the same. A few years ago he published a book called “What You See Is What You Get” and those words couldn’t summarise the relationship better. If he doesn’t like something you know about it. If he does like something he probably wont say it in such reassuring words. But in a sales company I like working with black and white parameters which he presents. Too many people try to be too many colours in between sometimes and that simply confuses things. For me what I signed up for, is what I get, and that is what makes me happy.
BSc (Hons) Microbiology
Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.