Thursday 21 June 2018

Zoe Ball: ‘It was important that I did something’ after death of Billy Yates

The presenter wants to raise awareness of mental health.

Zoe Ball (Ian West/PA)
Zoe Ball (Ian West/PA)

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Zoe Ball has told how her boyfriend’s death led her to sign up for a gruelling, Sport Relief challenge – saying it was “important that I did something”.

The presenter, 47, will be cycling over 300 miles, in just five days, from her birthplace of Blackpool to her hometown of Brighton, to raise awareness of mental health.

The subject is close to Ball’s heart following the death of cameraman Yates, who struggled with depression.

He was found dead at his home last May, aged 40.

Speaking of what inspired her to take up the fundraiser, the Strictly: It Takes Two host said: “I lost someone very dear to me who really struggled with depression and so it was really important that I did something.”

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Zoe Ball preparing for her challenge (Sport Relief)

She said she suffered “embarrassing falls” training for the challenge but that thinking about the reason she signed up kept her motivated.

Ball said: “I’ve been training my heart out for the last few weeks in preparation for this epic, BT-sponsored challenge for Sport Relief.

“A few predictable and embarrassing falls and lots of chafing cream applied but thinking of the reason I signed up for this challenging adventure will spur me on.

“Knowing that every penny we raise will make such a difference to so many different people’s lives is a great feeling.

“I’ll also be joined by my incredible family and friends, who will be pushing me along the way. I hope that my endeavours inspire others to do something that moves them for Sport Relief too!”

Ball visited The Tomorrow Project, which was set up to support individuals and communities to prevent suicide.

It is managed by Harmless, an organisation that provides support to people who are at risk of self-harm, their friends, families and professionals.

Ball’s challenge will be broadcast on a BBC1 documentary, which will air during the week of Sport Relief, taking place from March 17.

Greg James and Alex Jones are also taking on challenges with all three of the BBC presenters leading a nationwide charge for Britons to reach a collective one billion steps a day over the course of a week.

Novice cyclist Ball will set off on March 5 and attempt to cover 70 miles on just day one.

Sport Relief said that Ball has “a lot of questions about how to support those closest to you who live with mental health illnesses, how to move forward and how to know that you are not alone.”

Press Association

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