Cheryl Cole and Derek Hough sealed their love for each other yesterday with a romantic New Year’s stroll on a sun-drenched beach.
The X Factor judge looked carefree and relaxed as she walked with American dancer Derek – who she had treated to a week-long getaway to South Africa.
Under a clear bue sky the couple laughed and joked as Cheryl waved goodbye to a nightmare year in which she divorced cheating husband Ashley Cole and nearly died from malaria.
Cheryl, 27, started 2011 by sharing a passionate kiss with Derek, 25, in front of hundreds of guests at a lavish New Year’s Eve party – their first public display of their love.
They toasted each other with champagne as the midnight countdown begun. And as the clock struck 12, they danced to Pink’s party anthem Raise Your Glass before smooching their way into the New Year.
The kiss – at a lavish house party just outside Cape Town – proved once and for all that the pair ARE an item after months of speculation.
Last night a source close to the couple said: “Cheryl and Derek are together and don’t care who knows it.
“She wanted to spend New Year’s Eve with Derek because she sees her future with him. 2010 was the worst year of Cheryl’s life. But now she is looking forward to happier times with Derek.”
The Girls Aloud singer treated Derek to the holiday after they were forced to spend Christmas apart.
During the trip he presented her with a £10,000 diamond bracelet, which she wore to the party thrown by American property mogul Preston Haskell.
Billed as one of the most exclusive New Year’s Eve parties on the planet, the bash at his mansion in Fresnaye – which overlooks Table Mountain – cost more than £1million to organise.
Despite a lavish circus show, which included dozens of skimpily-dressed dancers, all eyes were on Cheryl and Dancing With The Stars champion Derek, who were inseparable all night.
As they danced to US pop-star Ke$ha’s song Your Love Is My Drug and the Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling, Cheryl’s swept-up hairstyle tumbled down on to her face.
Derek cuddled his lover as they watched a massive firework display explode over the skyline.
A fellow partygoer said: “It was so adorable to see Cheryl and Derek and how happy they were.
“If anyone didn’t believe they were a couple, the New Year’s Eve party proved they are. They only had eyes for each other and ignored everyone else.”
The pair left the party in the early hours of yesterday and headed back to their private villa in the exclusive Camps Bay resort – where Prince Harry used to stay with Chelsy Davy.
They didn’t emerge again until yesterday afternoon when they enjoyed their stroll along the beach.
The couple’s holiday began on Wednesday and within minutes of boarding the plane they were said to have been acting like love-struck teenagers.
A source said: “As soon as the plane took off they were giggling into each other’s ears and holding hands. It was very clear to everyone that they were a couple.”
After touching down in South Africa, the pair checked into the One & Only Hotel in Cape Town, a luxurious waterfront complex costing more than £2,000 a night.
On Wednesday evening they shared a romantic meal at the hotel’s trendy Nobu restaurant.
Cheryl, wearing a black blazer over a black harem jumpsuit and a pair of black Christian Louboutin shoes, spent most of the meal with her arms draped around Derek.
They shared sushi and drank wine and vodka cocktails as they chatted intimately. The next day they were seen holding hands at the side of the hotel pool.
The source added: “Derek kept saying things to make her laugh. His arms were round her constantly and they were acting like honeymooners.”
On Friday Derek and Cheryl moved to their luxurious villa in Cape Town’s Camps Bay.
They are due to stay for another three days before jetting off on a skiing holiday.
Cheryl wants to spend as much time as possible with Derek before beginning her new career as a judge on the American version of the X Factor.
She is looking at houses in Los Angeles, and friends say her big break on the US show will only help to strengthen her relationship with Derek because they will be able to spend more time together.
A pal said: “They are extremely loved-up and couldn’t be happier. Derek is helping her find a place to live in LA and is helping her with the move. He is delighted she will be closer.”
Meanwhile we can reveal how Cheryl’s mum Joan Callaghan, 50, hit the roof when she found out that Cheryl was going back to Africa so soon after nearly dying from malaria.
She caught the tropical bug last July when on holiday in Tanzania with Derek.
A friend told the Sunday Mirror: “Joan was crying hysterically when Cheryl told her she was going back to Africa, saying her body wasn’t strong enough yet and that she was putting her life at risk.
“But Cheryl wanted to be with Derek. Nothing was going to stop her being with him on New Year’s Eve.”