This year’s Comic Relief expedition to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro turned into an emotional journey – and viewers were touched by the nine celebrities and the way they supported each other all the way to the summit.
The Red Nose Day 2019 challenge saw Ed Balls, Anita Rani, Love Island’s Dani Dyer, Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, Strictly’s Shirley Ballas, Pointless host Alexander Armstrong and NFL star Osi Umenyiora team up to take on the highest mountain in Africa, following in the footsteps of Alesha Dixon and Cheryl who climbed Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief in 2009.
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It was a particularly emotional challenge for Ballas. Her brother lost his life to suicide in 2003, and the Strictly Come Dancing judge was determined to complete the challenge in his memory. “I think my brother would be proud of me,” she said, as she battled altitude sickness and panic attacks. “So, I’ll do this for him. If it means sleeping in a tent and being disorganised, I’ll do it. I’ll do my very best for sure.”
Shirley Ballas is making me absolute sob omg the way her reasoning behind doing the climb is to raise awareness surrounding suicide, so important☹️— molly (@singitpez) March 13, 2019
#ReturntoKili @comicrelief @ShirleyBallas You are an indomitable spirit Shirley thank you for sharing your brother with us all.Thank you for raising awareness of male suicide. I know he’s right beside you now saying Shirley you did me proud.A nation is now hugging you♥️👏🏻🙏.— Julie Anne Cotterill (@SpeedyTyping) March 13, 2019
Crying all the tears and I love Shirley #ReturnToKili— Vittoria Gallagher (@Vitt2TsNoC) March 13, 2019
Viewers also praised BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker, who stepped up as the group’s main cheerleader and motivator – encouraging Ballas and keeping Little Mix star Thirlwall going when she struggled.
— Justin (@dempseyjak) March 13, 2019
Thirlwall and Pinnock found the challenge tough, but they won praise from viewers who were impressed by how they pushed through:
that Kilimanjaro documentary made me cry so many times. I couldn't be prouder of them all and seeing Leigh n Jade get upset or ill or even not able to breathe got to me so much. love you both loads you were incredible ❤️ @LittleMix
— katy (@diannescure) March 13, 2019
Here is why I love Jade, she has a strong personality and climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro that is hard but they didn't surrender. Jade you are one of the best woman in the world I love you so much #ReturntoKili pic.twitter.com/JhBPJWwUmT
— evianlovelittlemix (@ILoveLM_4) March 14, 2019
And at the end of the day…
Climbing the 5895m of Kilimanjaro was the hardest thing any of us have done. Getting to the top together - when we were told it was impossible - was incredible. Raising £1m plus for @comicrelief would be the perfect conclusionhttps://t.co/yXjUvgy6EF#ReturnToKili #RedNoseDay pic.twitter.com/JOKnpR3MCX— Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) March 13, 2019
Oh @ShirleyBallas, that was emotional 😢 #ReturnToKili— Comic Relief (@comicrelief) March 13, 2019
If Shirley's story about mental health has affected you in any way and you want to talk to someone, there is always someone on hand at:@samaritans 116 123@theCALMzone 0800 585858