RICHARD EDEN: Marks & Spencer heiress Rebecca Sieff, 57, embarks on new romance after tragic death of husband Simon Howard

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She was a hair’s breadth from death when, aged 26, the helicopter she was travelling in span out of control and crashed in an Oxfordshire field.

Ever since then, the life of Marks & Spencer heiress Rebecca Sieff has been defined by extravagant swings of fortune, with moments of triumph, like marrying Simon Howard at his family seat, the unsurpassable Castle Howard – backdrop for both Brideshead Revisited and Bridgerton – alternating with setbacks, none bleaker than Simon’s death at a time when he was unfit to challenge grievous charges against him in court.

Now, I can disclose, two years after Simon succumbed to an overdose of insulin while in hospital, Rebecca appears ready for a new romantic chapter.

A sultry beauty blessed with what admirers call the ‘wow’ factor, she has had an electrifying effect on men for decades – as Simon discovered towards the end of his childless, 16-year marriage to Anette, known as ‘Scruff’.

And, at 57, her powers remain undimmed. She is, I’m told, enjoying the company of Patrick Waterfield, 65, a businessman whom an acquaintance playfully describes as ‘a bit of an old roué’.

Friends are intrigued. ‘He’s a real old school, quintessential English kind of bloke,’ a chum tells me. 

‘Red trousers, Gucci loafers and probably used to spend a lot of time in Brinkley’s [the Chelsea watering hole]. He’s the sort of Englishman who thinks it’s cool to wear clothes with holes in them.’

Simon Howard and his wife Rebecca in their stately home of Castle Howard

Waterfield, who has three adult daughters by his marriage to baronet’s daughter Nadia Stewart-Clark, cannot lay claim to anything like Castle Howard or the 10,000 acres that surround it – or even to something on the more modest scale of Welham Hall, the manor house to which Simon and Rebecca moved when Simon was dislodged as Castle Howard’s custodian by his older brother Nick in 2014.

Pictured outside their former stately home Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, which they left in 2015

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It was a blow which Rebecca, great-great-granddaughter of M&S founder Michael Marks, arguably felt even more keenly than Simon, with whom she’d had twins, Merlin and Octavia.

‘Whenever I drive past Castle Howard now, a shudder goes through me, as though someone were walking over my grave,’ said Rebecca, three years later.

She’d been bitterly wounded by a magazine article which appeared a year after her marriage to Simon in 2001. It was headed: ‘The Woman Who Set Out to Marry a House.’

But her love for Simon was plain in his final, troubled years. He suffered a brain haemorrhage after falling down stairs and was too ill to attend court where he was found guilty, ‘on the facts’, of sexually assaulting a girl in 1984.

Rebecca said that, had he been able to defend himself, she had ‘no doubts at all’ that the outcome would have been different.

Waterfield tells me: ‘It’s early days, but we’re very happy.’

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Ola Alabi
Ola Moses is a certified writer, He writes technically and creatively. He is the CEO of WORDSWORTH, a house where writing is made easier for all. He is a content creator at EsB TV, since 2019. He is a young man that showcases professionalism in all that he does, he was announced as Child and Green Foundation Person of the Year 2018, one of his many lists of honours.

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