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Louise Minchin reveals ‘personal’ reason for Sport Relief frozen lake trek

Louise Minchin has spoken about her ‘personal’ reason for doing Sport Relief’s frozen lake trek (Sam Riley/Comic Relief/PA)
Louise Minchin has spoken about her ‘personal’ reason for doing Sport Relief’s frozen lake trek (Sam Riley/Comic Relief/PA)

Louise Minchin has said that taking part in a 100-mile trek across a frozen lake for a mental health charity means a lot to her, as she has had mental health issues herself.

The BBC Breakfast host is one of a group of eight celebrities who will cycle, skate and walk the distance over four days across Lake Khovsgol in Mongolia, which is more than two million years old and freezes during the winter, in aid of Sport Relief.

The challenge aims to break the ice on the stigma surrounding mental health issues and will be filmed for a BBC One documentary called Sport Relief: On Thin Ice.

She told the PA news agency: “We talk about mental health the whole time on BBC Breakfast. Personally, a very long time ago, after my daughter was born, I had a very traumatic experience.

“My appendix burst a week after she was born, which put me in a very difficult place. At that time I did get help from a charity with how I was feeling.

“So, yes, it is personal for me. And on a really personal level, I have family who have suffered from mental health issues and then also friends who have suffered really serious issues.”

She added: “It is something we are all touched by in different ways. To raise money to help anyone… even if I can help one person when they are reaching out and they need assistance.

“If I can help them do that, then that is what is going to get me through those hard miles, knowing that somebody might get help like I did from a charity. It’s the reason why I am doing it.

“If I can in any way help, that’s what will get me through those dark moments.”

Minchin, who will take part in the challenge alongside BBC Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw among others, also spoke about how difficult the challenge will be for her as she suffers from Raynaud’s syndrome, which affects the hands and feet in cold temperatures or during stress or anxiety, causing tingling, numbness and pain.

“The thing that I am going to find most difficult is 100% the cold,” she said.

Sport Relief
Nick Grimshaw (Comic Relief/PA)

“I’m not very good in the cold and I have this thing called Raynaud’s which means that, if I go to the supermarket, my hands will go numb and white just because the supermarket is cold.”

Temperatures during the challenge could drop to as low as minus 30C (minus 22F), and the celebrities will need to prepare for sleeping in a tent on the frozen ice.

Minchin said: “I love sport and I love outdoors but it will be the relentless nature of it because we will do 25 miles of skating and that’s on our first day.

“I know that I might run and I might cycle but I don’t skate and I am going to wake up the next morning in agony from all that skating.”

Grimshaw, who was the first celebrity announced for the sub-zero four-day challenge, previously said that he “can’t wait to get started”, although he knows how challenging it will be, “both mentally and physically”.

Another star taking part in a challenge for Sport Relief this year is newsreader Sophie Raworth, who will take on BBC Radio 3’s Beat Beethoven event, which sees members of the public run 5k around MediaCityUK in Salford and “beat” the music of Beethoven’s epic Fifth Symphony performed live by the BBC Philharmonic.

As part of this year’s TV entertainment, David Walliams, Davina McCall, Greg James, John Bishop and Gareth Thomas are among those who will share memorable moments from their fundraising challenges over the years in a special documentary.

The Sport Relief television show will be on BBC One on March 13, with Gary Lineker and Paddy McGuinness returning as hosts.

Sport Relief raises money for issues including mental health, domestic abuse, homelessness and child poverty in the UK and around the world.

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