Monday 26 September 2016

Davina McCall scales climbing wall for Duke of Edinburgh's Award challenge

Published 12/01/2016 | 02:56

Julia Bradbury and Davina McCall pose on a climbing wall in Covent Garden, London to launch a project marking the 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme
Julia Bradbury and Davina McCall pose on a climbing wall in Covent Garden, London to launch a project marking the 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme

Davina McCall reached her peak when she took on a climbing challenge to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award (DofE).

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The television presenter was one of a host of famous faces who grappled with a climbing wall to mark the milestone and kick-start the DofE Diamond Challenge.

Impressionist Jon Culshaw, TV presenters Julia Bradbury and Alice Beer, and sports broadcaster Jim Rosenthal were some of the celebrities who also shimmied up the wall erected in London's Covent Garden.

The DofE was founded six decades ago and the Diamond Challenge aims to encourage members of the public to take on a new pursuit that will inspire and motivate them - from running a marathon to learning an instrument.

McCall and Bradbury were the first to take on the climbing wall after posing with the other celebrities for a group picture.

They both gingerly made their way up the vertical challenge and when they reached the top McCall was lowered down by a safety rope.

When she reached the ground, the presenter put her hand on her chest and said: "Oh my God - my heart."

Choreographer Arlene Phillips shouted encouragement from the sidelines but had to sit out the event as she was recuperating from a knee operation.

She said: "I've just had a new knee operation so I'm here to encourage people to step up to the challenge and do a quick step up the wall. And I want to encourage people to take on the Diamond Challenge and let them know anyone can do this."

Over the past 60 years, more than 5.6 million young people have started their DofE in the UK, and almost 2.5 million have achieved awards.

Phillips said she was thinking of a Diamond Challenge for herself: "I think I would like to do stand-up, I don't think I can do that so it would really be a big challenge to stand there and get people to laugh."

Organisers hope members of the public will try out the Covent Garden climbing wall and climb the equivalent of Ben Nevis - the highest mountain in the British Isles.

Presenter Alice Beer said: "I did my Duke of Edinburgh's gold award 30 years ago and I want to repeat that for the Diamond Challenge.

"I turned 50 last year and I'm up for a challenge - everyone can step up."

Peter Westgarth, the award scheme's chief executive, said his Diamond Challenge was to learn how to play the guitar properly after owning the instrument since he was 18.

He said: "I had a guitar lesson last night and had to un-learn everything I'd been doing.

"But this year we want to get as many people across the UK as possible to have a new experience and get outside their comfort zone and do something they've never done before or always wanted to do."

Press Association

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