Cheryl and Liam Payne break their silence on split rumours as she makes rare public appearance
The couple’s relationship is reportedly on the rocks
Liam Payne has praised partner Cheryl’s charitable efforts amid speculation about their relationship.
The 34-year-old singer had earlier declared “none of that matters” in regards to reports claiming the couple were on the rocks as she opened a Prince’s Trust centre in Newcastle.
Dressed in a camel-coloured coat, blue polo neck and jeans, she unveiled The Prince’s Trust Cheryl’s Trust Centre in her native city on Tuesday.
As she shared an Instagram post supporting the centre, Payne commented he was “very proud” of her.
He wrote: “How you find the time to do this I’ll never know. Over many years you’ve put all this together and put your heart into such a great cause!
“I hope one day I can do the same,” he added.
Earlier on Tuesday Cheryl had been asked whether it was frustrating to see stories about her private life. She told BBC Breakfast: “No, it doesn’t bother me at all because my focus is solely on this.
“I’ve waited for seven years to finally be here and none of that matters. This is the most important part for me.”
And the mother-of-one said her relationship with the Prince’s Trust was “the perfect marriage”.
She told the Press Association that inspiration for her involvement in the centre came about because of a “shit year”.
The star developed and was treated for malaria in 2010, the same year that her once fairytale marriage to footballer Ashley Cole ended.
“About seven years ago I had a really shit year,” she said.
“I wouldn’t call it a lightbulb moment but I had a moment of ‘I need to help others that are feeling this’.”
Having a tough time “reminds you of how I actually felt when I was younger growing up here – those same feelings, feeling vulnerable, insecure, my self-esteem was low.
“I just had a passionate feeling of wanting to help,” she said.
The former Girls Aloud star and X Factor judge said she still relates to young people in the North East, despite her fame and success.
“You never forget,” she told the Press Association. “I have never forgotten how I felt as a teenager.
“It’s tough growing up in the North East, especially now the unemployment rate is ridiculous.
“So, if we can help one, two, three, four people a year, let alone thousands or hundreds, get a job or get on their feet with their own business, then I have done more than my fair share.”
The teenage Cheryl would have thought the centre was “awesome”, she said, adding: “I would have probably either been here every other day … or worked here.”
And she added: “Obviously it had to be here, it’s where I’m from, it’s where my family are from and it’s where my friends still are. I was determined, it took a long time but we got here.”
Cheryl added: “This is the biggest achievement … of my entire career because it means so much.
“It’s great to win awards and it’s great attending events, but it’s not the same personal feeling.”
On working with the Prince’s Trust, she told BBC Breakfast: “The partnership just felt natural and real. We are the perfect marriage.”
And she said of her teenage years: “If I hadn’t been fortunate enough to get out I don’t know where my life would be right now.
“I want to say anybody, if you’re feeling … vulnerable, sad, lost, the door’s here. You’re more than welcome. We’ll welcome you with open arms … that’s what we’re here for.”
Thomas Barclays, from Wallsend, Newcastle, who uses the centre, met the singer and described her as “canny”.
The 19-year-old, who hopes to be a photographer, has struggled with anxiety, and said after meeting her: “I couldn’t believe it was happening, it was like a dream.
“I’ve never met a celebrity before and she was canny.”
Karla Graham, 20, also from Newcastle, said Cheryl was her idol.
“It was amazing to meet her, she was pretty cool,” she said.
Cheryl, who seemed to be nursing a cold, posed for pictures with dozens of fans who had waited outside in the cold to meet her before she was driven off in a limo.
Superfan Becca Bunten spent £200 to travel from Hurlford, Ayrshire, to see her idol.
She got a selfie and a hug with the singer and said afterwards: “It cost £200 to come down. I’d have spent £2,000.
“I’m speechless, she was even nicer than I thought.
“She is so pretty in person.”