Presenter and campaigner Katie Piper has said she is “really proud” to be taking part in this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing, 10 years after being the victim of an acid attack.
In March 2008, Piper, now 34, was injured in an assault that was arranged by her former partner.
She was left partially blind, with severe scarring to her face, chest, neck, arm and hands, after sulphuric acid was thrown in her face.
Now a TV presenter, author and campaigner, who supports acid attack survivors through her charity the Katie Piper Foundation, she has undergone more than 250 operations over the past decade.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, where she was unveiled as the first star name to appear in the 16th series of the dancing competition, Piper said: “I think it gives a wider message that my past and the way I look is irrelevant and I’m able to go forward and do these things.
“That’s something I’m really proud of. From a personal point of view, it’s so refreshing to be doing something so light-hearted and just so fun.”
Piper told hosts Dan Walker and Louise Minchin that she would like to be partnered with professional dancer Giovanni Pernice, but she is concerned that she has no natural rhythm.
She added: “I’ve faced challenges in my life before, so I’m going to try and apply the psychological mindset to it.
“I think whatever happens to me on Strictly, I hope to come away with a different type of confidence in a different area of my life and I would have learned something new.
“Even if I don’t last long, I will come away knowing something that I didn’t before, and that’s a bonus.”
Piper admitted that keeping her participation a secret was difficult, saying: “The only person I told was my husband, through text message, and he thought I was joking.”
The identity of the remaining contestants on this year’s series of the dancing competition will be revealed over the coming days.
Other stars tipped to be donning their dancing shoes for the show this year include Pussycat Dolls singer Ashley Roberts, radio host Vick Hope and Steps star Faye Tozer.
Piper said she did not know who else has been signed up for the show and revealed that she had not been able to use her own name when arriving for costume fittings.
She said: “I actually don’t know anything. When there are leaks I’m like ‘Oh wow, I wonder if they’re in it?’ When I ask, I’m not allowed to know. No-one will confirm any speculation.
“It’s so secretive and when you turn up to the reception you can’t say what you’re here for and why. I couldn’t even use my own name for months.
“I had a code name – Brie. Everyone was cheese. Brie is not too smelly, is it?”
Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One in the autumn.