Blazing heat, viper snakes, rocky mountains and sheer drops. This was no walk in the park for the celebrities who took on the BT Red Nose Desert Trek last year.
Ronni Ancona, Craig David, Lorraine Kelly, Scott Mills, Olly Murs, Dermot O’Leary, Nadia Sawalha, Kara Tointon and Peter White embarked on the 100-kilometre trek across the Kaisut Desert in northern Kenya back in February 2011.
The celebrity team’s efforts raised money to help people living tough lives across Africa and the UK, and particularly highlighting the issue of sight loss.
The five-day adventure saw the team deal with snakes, spiders and scorpions, and endure temperatures as high as 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The route presented them frequent rock slides and dangerously rocky paths. Hard enough for the sighted celebrities, but for visually impaired Radio 4 presenter Peter White, it was real a test of skills.
“I would say that today was the most physically challenging day of my entire life so far,” he said on Day One. “As a blind person, trying to combine a steep climb while dodging rock slides is really tough. Dermot and I did a difficult bit of the climb together. I held onto his rucksack and tried not to drag him down.”
Olly and Peter walked together later in the trek, and had an impromptu jamming and singalong at one point, which helped keep spirits high. It was certainly needed, as every member of the team struggled during the five days, as the scale of the challenge really hit home when they got to the desert proper.
After enduring blisters, stomach bugs, sleepless nights and sunburn - as well as a test of their own willpower - the team got to the finish line on schedule, where they were greeted by a group of children singing and clapping, as well as others they had met along the route. It was certainly an emotional end to gruelling journey.
“This is something that I never thought I’d be able to achieve,” said DJ Scott Mills. “To be able to do this and help raise money for Comic Relief has been a real privilege.”
The BT Red Nose Desert Trek raised £1,375,037 and helped focus attention on the impact of avoidable blindness from conditions such as trachoma and cataracts. In Africa, losing your sight can rob you of your ability to work, which has a devastating impact on families. Just £5 can pay for a sight-saving operation for someone in Africa suffering from trachoma, and £40 can train someone to look after the sight of people in their community.
For this year, we’ve got even more celebrity challenges lined up, but we still need your help to make Sport Relief 2012 bigger and better than ever. Simply go to our BT MyDonate page and donate as little or as much as you want.
You can also take part in one of our BT customer challenges happening in the run up to the big night on 23rd March. Thursday 1st March is Buzz for Bishop Day. Any calls made from a BT payphone, BT home or business phone or to BT’s Directory Enquiry Service 118500 on Thursday 1st March will help raise money for Sport Relief.*
In support of Sport Relief, an initiative of Comic Relief, registered charity 326568 (England/Wales); SC039730 (Scotland)
*BT will donate 1p for every phone call made by a BT residential and business calls and lines customer from a BT residential or business landline, every call made from a BT payphone and 25p for every call to BT’s Directory Enquiry Service 118500 from and landline or mobile between 00.01 and 24.00 on the 01/03/12.