Helen Elizabeth Skelton (born 19 July 1983 in Carlisle) is an English television presenter. She has worked on the BBC children's programme Blue Peter since 2008. In 2010 she kayaked over 2,000 miles along the Amazon River, and in 2012 she finished a 500-mile (800 km) trek to the South Pole, both for Sport Relief, making her a double world record holder.
Skelton was brought up on a dairy farm in the village of Kirkby Thore in Cumbria. She attended Kirkby Thore Primary School, and then Appleby Grammar School. She graduated from Cumbria Institute of the Arts, where she gained a BA degree in journalism. During her time at college, she worked as an extra on Coronation Street and Cutting It.
Her brother, Gavin, is a professional footballer currently playing for Barrow. When she joined Blue Peter, she was dating his former Gretna team-mate David Graham; the couple broke up in October 2009.
In August 2012, Helen announced she was closing her Twitter account because she "cannot cope with negative comments".
Skelton is a qualified tap dance teacher and has said that if she was not a broadcaster she would be a teacher as "I like the sound of my own voice." In December 2012, she took part in a Christmas Special edition of the BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing.
After briefly working in public relations, Helen decided to concentrate on journalism. She worked in the newsroom at CFM Radio, and was involved with various programmes at Border Television, before becoming a breakfast presenter on BBC Radio Cumbria in 2005, becoming one of the youngest breakfast show presenters on the BBC network. She was then a reporter and occasional presenter on children's news programme Newsround and its weekend sports based version, Sportsround.
Helen was revealed as a new Blue Peter presenter on 28 August 2008, replacing Zöe Salmon, becoming the 33rd presenter for the programme. In a challenge for the show, she took an uncredited role in the BBC production of Merlin.
In April 2009, Helen became only the second woman ever to finish the 78-mile (126 km) Namibian ultra marathon. Skelton completed the run in 23 hours and 45 minutes - just 15 minutes under the time limit of one day. "It was a gruelling experience, but one I'll never forget. There were tough times but also amazing times," she told Newsround. Just weeks later, she completed the 2009 London Marathon.
In early 2010, Helen kayaked the entire length of the Amazon River for Sport Relief 2010. She kayaked 2,010 miles (3,230 km) on a solo journey from Nauta in Peru on 20 January, to Almeirim, Brazil on 28 February. It was initially claimed that she had achieved two Guinness World Records: the longest solo journey by kayak, and the longest distance in a kayak in 24 hours by a woman. but the latter of these was not verified and was superseded within months.
|“||That this House congratulates Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton on her 2,000 mile kayak along the Amazon to raise money for Sport Relief; notes her considerable position as a role model to young people and the magnificent example she sets; further notes the forthcoming verification by Guinness World Records of the two records set by Helen during her effort - longest solo journey by kayak and the longest distance travelled in a kayak in 24 hours by a woman; and further notes the work of Sport Relief in raising money to help transform the lives of poor and vulnerable people, both in the UK and all over the world.||”|
Helen Skelton walked a 150-metre tightrope between chimneys at Battersea Power Station, 66 metres above ground, to raise money for Comic Relief on 28 February 2011. Blue Peter created two specials about her walk.
In 2012, Helen Skelton raised more money for Sport Relief by becoming the first person to reach the South Pole using a bicycle. The bike was custom built for her trip, with 8-inch-wide tyres. She also used skis and a kite to help her pull a sled containing 82 kg of supplies. She covered 329 miles by kite ski, 103 by bike, and 69 by cross-country ski. She is also the first person to claim a world record for the fastest 100 km by kite ski, in seven hours 28 minutes, which was set during the trip. A degree of controversy surrounds the speed for distance claim but Guinness World Records defended the award saying "We are aware of explorers who have achieved longer distances, but Helen Skelton’s application was the first that Guinness World Records had received specifically for the 100-kilometre distance". Blue Peter also made 5-6 episode specials for this event.
Helen's Magnificent 7Edit
As Helen is a tv presenter on Blue Peter alongside Barney Harwood she wanted to inspire the young blue peter viewers to do something to support comic relief so she took on seven challenges set by comic relief while breaking one world record. She called this series of challenges her "Magnificent 7". She took on quite a handful of challenges so she needed lots of support so she received lots of cards and letters from the Blue Peter Viewers. Here is the report of her challenges;
- Rugby Kick - Failed
- Performing In 2 Shows On One Night - Succeeded
- Flying With The Red Arrows - Succeeded
- Photo Shoot - Succeeded
- Rope Bridge - Succeeded
- Longest Line Of Bunting - Succeeded (World Record)
- Coin Toss - Failed
Even though Helen didn't complete all her challenges she had one aim and that was to inspire people to get involved with Comic Relief and that is exactly what she did. Helen quoted "I really enjoyed doing all of my challenges but some more than others, I loved the red arrows. It was such a great opportunity but I think my favourite was the coin dominoes it was great tv! I hated the rugby, only because I missed. I was raging.It was great to do something that involved so many of you. It was a real boost for me to find out so many of you are doing things for comic relief. So thanks again for all your help guys, wouldnt have been the same without you!!!"
|1999||Coronation Street||Supporting Role|
|1999||Cutting It||Supporting Role|
|2005||BBC Radio Cumbria||Radio Presenter|
|2007–8||Newsround||Reporter & Relief Presenter|
|2012||Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special||Contestant|
|2013||Walk On The Wild Side||Presenter|
|2013||Holiday Hit Squad||Co-presenter|
|2013||What's Cooking? (TV series)||Guest|