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Comic Relief Kilimanjaro climb

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The Comic Relief celebrities get ready to climb Kilimanjaro - (back row, left to right) Gary Barlow, Ronan Keating, Fearne Cotton, Chris Moyles, Cheryl Cole, Kimberley Walsh (front row, left to right) Alesha Dixon, Ben Shephard and Denise Van Outen

Nine celebrities arrived in Tanzania this weekend to climb Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief and I was lucky enough to be part of the welcome party! As well as being extremely excited to meet the idols of my teenage years (Gary Barlow!!!! Ronan Keating!!!!) it was fascinating to learn more about Comic Relief and the work that they do, and join teams BBC TV and Radio One while they were preparing for the fundraising night ahead.

Although the nerves were showing as they contemplated the eight days slog ahead of them, the celebrities are driven on by their first hand experiences of the fantastic Comic Relief projects which they have visited in order to make short films for the night. I spoke to Ben Shephard, for example, who had been to visit a street children centre close to Kilimanjaro a couple of days ago and he said how proud he was to be helping the boys he met.

For many of them it was their first visit to Tanzania, and they were asking me lots of questions about the country, the people and development progress in general. We talked about how the work of DFID and the work of projects sponsored by Comic Relief complement each other. For example through the help of DFID and other partners, the government of Tanzania has been able to make primary schooling free, but hurdles still remain for many poor children in accessing this free schooling. Projects like the street children centre, which helps some of the most excluded children access education, depend hugely on external funding from organisations like Comic Relief.

Kilimanjaro from afar - you can just see the top above the clouds
Kilimanjaro from afar - you can just see the top above the clouds

I was happy to tell them that in 2009, DFID have partnered with Comic Relief to match their UK fundraising for education - up to £5 million.

We think it's a great cause, and I encourage you to give generously, and to watch the programme about the climb on the 12th March, and you can watch their progress over the next few days online.

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  1. Comment by mary george posted on

    Wow ....meeting all those celebs. Have you come down to earth yet?? I hope they realise that work goes on all the time and not just when the cameras are there.

  2. Comment by Tracey Cobbett posted on

    It's great to hear that these celebs are learning more about DFID's work and also supporting Comic Relief. It helps bring it to the attention of a wider audience. Looking forward to watching the programme next week. Keep up the good work in Tanzania. Wish Gary Barlow would pay me a visit...

  3. Comment by Gabriel Sule posted on

    Am glad to hear and see about the celebs for their courage for their coming and support to the development initiatives in Tanzania.I wish you all the best in your important stay in Tanzania and particularly for the fundrising to come.

  4. Comment by Letizia posted on

    We are proud of you all and keep following you through Radio one and blogs! Keep strong and most important keep smiling....

    I am a rower and my trainer once told me the best way to keep going is to find the discomfort in order to find the comfort again.

    Sending you lots of strength and happy vibes.

    Your fan

  5. Comment by marion beswick posted on

    following you all on the internet .fab ,carnt wait to see the finish,well done i feel so proud to be british,maz .keep smiling

  6. Comment by sharon donnelly posted on

    Well done all of you but the best is yet to come , climbing to the summit will be the hardest thing that you have ever done in your life - i know from exsperience as i did Kili in 2007. If you get to the jamican rocks dont give up as you will be nearly there. oh yeh say hello to emanuel from me as he was also our porter/ leader.

    All the best to you all and hope that you all make it.

  7. Comment by mbeswick posted on

    nearly there ,with ya all the way,let it shine,let it shine ,keeping me up all night, wow ,brill maz

  8. Comment by mark johnston posted on

    While the sentiment behind the climb is highly commendable,having just watched some of the " climb " on T.V am I the only person who thinks it seems more like a walk , Fearne cotton was sitting on a rock wrapped in what looks like several layers of jackets while some bloke sat next to her in a tee shirt
    who says the British are mollycoddled !

  9. Comment by r radcliffe posted on

    I Watched the climb to kilimanjaro ,
    if i could buy this on D V D i most certainly would , to develop the D V D would cost very little if anything , if it was then sold for £15-00 a tremendous amount of people woul purchase it , the money from this could the be added to comic relief ,

  10. Comment by Donna Starkey posted on

    You lot were really good and well done for all the hard work you have done!!!!!!!!

  11. Comment by andrewm posted on

    Yep, it was rather life-affirming to see these celebs doing something worthwhile for the less well off. They all put their earts and souls into the climb -although, i still can't quite believe Chris Moyles made it!