Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall sets off to climb Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief

South Shields pop star Jade Thirlwall has set off on a gruelling climb of Kilimanjaro - with a stash of teabags to help her on the way.

By Gary Welford
Monday, 25 February, 2019, 10:12
Jade Thirlwall and her Little Mix bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock are among the nine climbers who are tackling Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief. Pic: Chris Jackson.

The Little Mix singer is one of nine celebrities who have embarked upon the biggest physical challenge of their lives - scaling Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

After weeks of anticipation, training and breaking in their hiking boots, Team Kilimanjaro are on their way to raising lots of life-changing cash for Red Nose Day.

Earlier this morning, Jade and her fellow climbers packed their kit bags and hit the road to begin their eight-day trek.

Arriving at Kilimanjaro national park with a mix of nerves and excitement, day one has seen the team eased in to mountain life, with a steady climb reaching an altitude of 9,383ft.

Tonight they will learn how to put up their tents and decide who they will be bunking up with before the trek gets tougher tomorrow.

Jade, 26, who like the rest of the group is an inexperienced climber, said: "It’s so amazing to finally be here. It’s been quite gentle so far, but I know it's going to get seriously tough.

"I am not sure I am totally ready, but it’s an incredible cause and I am determined to reach the top with this amazing bunch of people.

"I’ve got my teabags, so I’ll know I’ll be okay!”

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The other members of the group are Shirley Ballas, Ed Balls, Anita Rani, Dani Dyer, Alexander Armstrong, Dan Walker, Osi Umenyiora, and Jade's Little Mix bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock.

Jade and Leigh-Anne posted a video on their Instagram saying they were taking it steady and eating lots of snacks for energy.

Ten years on since Gary Barlow, Alesha Dixon, Fearne Cotton, Cheryl, Kimberley Walsh, Ben Shepherd, Ronan Keating, Denise Van Outen and Chris Moyles took on Kilimanjaro, the new recruits are taking on a different, tougher, longer route, spending even more time at extreme altitude.

All the drama will be followed up close and personal, with highs, lows, twists and turns and moments of delirium captured on camera by Shine TV, who are making a one-hour special documentary of the challenge, Kilimanjaro: The Bigger Red Nose Climb.

The full story of how the group adjust to their basic camping conditions, new climbing companions, extreme temperatures and debilitating altitude sickness will be revealed on BBC One in the run up to Red Nose Day, which is on Friday, March 15.

All the money raised will help Comic Relief fund projects both here in the UK and internationally, to help change lives.

You can make a donation online at comicrelief.com/Kilimanjaro