Out­doorsy pre­sen­ter He­len Skel­ton tells how a fam­ily tragedy shifted her out­look and why her love of fit­ness has noth­ing to do with abs

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - INTERVIEW -

Los­ing two cousins who were re­ally close to me al­tered my per­spec­tive on life mas­sively. One didn’t even get to the age I am, and nowa­days I’m just grate­ful for ev­ery ex­tra year I chalk up on earth, and en­joy life as much as pos­si­ble.

It means I def­i­nitely don’t ‘sweat the small stuff ’. My elder cousin was in her 30s and had breast can­cer, and my other cousin died in a tragic ac­ci­dent in her mid-20s. We’re a close-knit fam­ily and it was trau­matic for every­one.

I know be­ing an open, hon­est, out­spo­ken per­son gets me into trou­ble all the time, but I don’t know how to be any other way. Sure, some­times I think, ‘Why did I say that?’, but at the end of the day, it’s all a game re­ally. Peo­ple get­ting wound up about me wear­ing a pair of shorts and say it’s af­fected my get­ting a job is just plain silly. I thought I looked nice, while my fam­ily and friends just laughed and said, ‘He­len, you’ve al­ways worn weird out­fits, what’s the fuss about!’

Frankly, you’re head­ing down a dan­ger­ous path if you take se­ri­ously what peo­ple say about you, and I don’t read most of it. I be­lieve in a great say­ing — ‘Don’t wish life away, and don’t look on it as for­ever’ — and when life’s stress­ful, I think of that. Come on, you’re sign­ing up to box­ing not bal­let, and ba­si­cally to hit some­one in the face! If I hadn’t fought like I did and given it ev­ery­thing, it would have been dis­re­spect­ful to the sport and all the ef­fort my trainer put into me. I got a black eye, my hus­band found it dif­fi­cult to watch and cried, but he was proud of me and I did my best. I wouldn’t do it again but I loved ev­ery minute of the ex­pe­ri­ence. I’ve been ac­tive and ded­i­cated to health and fit­ness since I was 15 years old, but I don’t do it be­cause it’s good for my back­side, my abs or to look good. I do it be­cause I en­joy it and get a to­tal buzz out of it. I’m five foot two and never weigh my­self and never fol­low a diet, and off-screen I hardly wear make-up.

I’ve been lucky to ex­pe­ri­ence so many chal­lenges: The 78mile Namib­ian Ul­tra Marathon, kayaked the Ama­zon, cy­cled to the South Pole, run in the Lon­don Marathon.

Our garage is full of ev­ery type of sport equip­ment — skis, moun­tain bikes, road bikes, box­ing gloves, skip­ping ropes, kayaks, kites. I work out in there reg­u­larly and I’m al­ways up for try­ing a new sport.” GLAM GIRL: We only mar­ried in 2013 — so ask me the se­cret in 10 years time! Mar­riages and re­la­tion­ships are not all plain sail­ing but we ap­proach it like team work. Rich is the best dad. He’s the ‘sugar po­lice’ when it comes to their diet and in­sists on rou­tine, whereas some­times I’m any­thing for a quiet life, so we’re a good bal­ance. Our house is chaos usu­ally, as Ernie (3) and Louis (1) are so close in age and are the def­i­ni­tion of wild at times. For the time be­ing, we’re not hav­ing any more, but I wouldn’t say no one day. We’ve just had to buy the big­gest bed as they end up sleep­ing with us ev­ery night. We laugh about the idea of ‘date nights’. I can’t even fit in time for a hair colour, so how do peo­ple find time for those? I don’t take men­tal health lightly. Be­ing aware of what makes you happy is a re­ally good thing. I’m much bet­ter and hap­pier when I’m out­side near green spa­ces, so I spend a lot of time out­side — walk­ing, wan­der­ing, get­ting fresh air — and that keeps my head in check. Coun­try­file’s the ideal job for me, even though some mo­ments have chal­lenged my calm — like get­ting splat­ted in the face by a cow pat, and be­ing trapped in a rub­ber dry suit when I was seven months preg­nant and hav­ing a group of to­tal strangers try to wres­tle me out of it!

Get­ting enough sleep, ex­er­cis­ing and spend­ing qual­ity time with my fam­ily and those who are pre­cious to me is key. I’m learn­ing Reiki, a heal­ing tech­nique, and I prac­tise on my hus­band and the kids but hope to be­come a trained Master of it even­tu­ally. Spend­ing time with my kids and Rich, and I love my work in the crazy world of tele­vi­sion. I love the va­ri­ety of live tele­vi­sion, en­ter­tain­ment and sport, and my dream would be to cover the Olympics in Tokyo.

What’s so re­ward­ing is help­ing with a cam­paign: P&G and Sains­bury’s #HelpUsHelpThem cam­paign rais­ing funds for The Royal Bri­tish Le­gion and Pop­pyscot­land.

It’s re­ally im­por­tant to help re­duce the stress and anx­i­ety of ser­vice peo­ple and their fam­i­lies across the armed forces com­mu­nity, who are vul­ner­a­ble and in need. It’s for all sorts of peo­ple, from serv­ing soldiers to those who’ve been med­i­cally dis­charged, or rel­a­tives of those who’ve died. There couldn’t be a more de­serv­ing cause. I feel guilty be­cause I love my friends dearly, but I’m a ter­ri­ble friend and reg­u­larly pull out of lunches, birth­day par­ties and mee­tups. We’re re­ally good in this gen­er­a­tion at stretch­ing our­selves in all di­rec­tions and do­ing things that we think we ought to do, but ev­ery now and again, you’ve got to say no to stuff. With the boys and work­ing all over the coun­try, I lit­er­ally can’t do ev­ery­thing. He­len Skel­ton is sup­port­ing P&G and Sains­bury’s #HelpUsHelpThem cam­paign, rais­ing funds for The Royal Bri­tish Le­gion and Pop­pyscot­land. From now un­til Novem­ber 20, Sains­bury’s shop­pers can buy se­lected P&G health and beauty prod­ucts, in­clud­ing Oral B, Olay, Gil­lette and Pan­tene, in store or on­line and trig­ger a do­na­tion. 1 pack = 1 do­na­tion

He­len Skel­ton, and (above) with hus­band Richie and their sons

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