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Kilimanjaro climbers celebrate Ed Balls’ birthday at 14,000ft

The trek is in aid of Comic Relief.


Ed Balls (Comic Relief)

Ed Balls (Comic Relief)

Ed Balls (Comic Relief)

Ed Balls was treated to a surprise birthday party as he turned 52 during his ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The former shadow chancellor is one of several celebrities who are trying to conquer the 19,000ft mountain for Comic Relief.

He turned 52 on day three of the climb, as the team reached 14,000ft.

Despite heavy rain and harsh winds, the group, which also includes Strictly’s Shirley Ballas, Dani Dyer, Anita Rani, Alexander Armstrong, Dan Walker, Osi Umenyiora, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, found time to celebrate Balls’ birthday with a singalong and a cake.

Many of the stars have noted that the climb is more challenging than they had expected.

Little Mix star Thirlwall said: “I’m not gonna lie, I thought it would be a little bit more glamorous, the camping site.

“It’s not going to be that full on. Then we got here, there’s nothing glamorous at all.

“To keep us all going I’ve packed strawberry laces, chocolate buttons obviously… can’t go wrong. I brought the lot, brought the works.”
Her bandmate Pinnock added: “There have been a few tears. We’ve all had tears.

“We are all out of our comfort zone.

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“I love that we are experiencing new things but it is seriously challenging.

“Dan Walker has been like a big brother helping us with our backpacks.

“He is literally the nicest bloke ever.”

Dyer said she has been so emotional she “literally cried at a rainbow”.

Strictly judge Ballas said: “Everybody is trying to put their best foot forward with the weather, but I’ll tell you, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

“So from an emotional standpoint and also waking up at 4am in the morning, getting up, being in the cold, no showers, so hard, but what an amazing cause.”
The ascent is being documented for a special one-hour documentary to air on BBC One.

Kilimanjaro: The Return takes place 10 years after the original climb led by Gary Barlow, which raised £1.5 million for Comic Relief.

Red Nose Day 2019 is on March 15.

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