Childhood & Early Life
Helen Elizabeth Skelton was born on July 19, 1983, in the village named Kirkby Thore in Cumbria, England, to Janet and Richard Skelton. She grew up with an older brother named Gavin Richard Skelton. Both the siblings enjoyed outdoor sports, and Gavin later went on to become a footballer. This also inspired Helen to become a sports broadcaster later in her career.
Her family owned an animal farm for generations, and her father worked on the farm to earn his livelihood. Hence, Helen grew up amidst nature. She was an athletic kid and loved animals.
She loved working with her father on his farm. She once mentioned that cutting grass was her favorite activity when she was a kid.
She was also a highly enthusiastic dancer and attended dance lessons. She has also stated that if she had not become a journalist, she would have been a dance teacher.
However, her love for journalism and writing was too great. After studying at a local village primary school named the ‘Kirkby Thore Primary School,’ she joined the ‘Appleby Grammar School.’ After graduating high school, she joined the ‘Cumbria Institute of the Arts,’ where she pursued a BA degree in journalism.
Ever since she was a child, she enjoyed watching TV. While in college, she also appeared on TV as an “extra” on ‘Coronation Street.’ In addition, she also appeared as an “extra” in the drama series titled ‘Cutting It.’ After graduating college, she worked many jobs and eventually began appearing on radio shows.
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After graduating in journalism, she worked in the public relations departments of a few organizations. After a while, she aspired to enter the domain of journalism. Around the same time, she earned her first radio job, at ‘CFM Radio.’ There, she worked at ‘Border Television,’ which specialized in news from around the England/Scotland border.
In 2005, she received a big break when she earned a job with the ‘BBC.’ She was hired as a breakfast presenter on ‘BBC Radio Cumbria.’ The studio was set in Carlisle, from where she reported local news related to Cumbria and other nearby places.
She then took up a job as a reporter for the TV program titled ‘Newsround.’ It was a children’s news program. She also worked as a reporter for the sports-based TV program titled ‘Sportsround,’ which was a weekend-only sports-oriented version of ‘Newsround.’
In 2008, she was hired as a presenter for the show ‘Blue Peter,’ replacing the show’s star presenter, Zoe Salmon. She thus became the 33rd presenter of the show, which was a big achievement for such a young presenter. She appeared on the show for the next 5 years. It was a children’s TV news show, which had been running since 1958. Thus, it was one of the longest-running TV news programs. While working for ‘Blue Peter,’ she also appeared in the TV series ‘Merlin.’
Additionally, she has also been a star dancer and has participated in and won many dancing competitions. In 2008, she participated in the ‘Malta Open Dance Competition,’ where she competed with about 100 other dancers and won the competition. She had a 16-year-old wheelchair user as her partner. It was an amazing feat.
In 2008, she began presenting the show ‘Countryfile,’ a weekly program on ‘BBC One.’ She appeared on the show occasionally. It focused mainly on the rural, agricultural, and environmental issues prevalent in the country. Her experience of being around nature played a crucial role in her authentic reporting on the show.
In 2009, she participated in the ‘Namibian Ultra Marathon.’ The 78-mile-long marathon was one of the longest in the world, and she became the second woman to reach the finish line. The same year, she also successfully completed the ‘London Marathon.’
In 2009, she appeared as a reporter for the show ‘Let’s Dance for Sport Relief.’ The same year, she appeared as a guest on the shows ‘Chris Moyles Quiz Night’ and ‘Smart!’
In 2010, she participated in the 2010 ‘Sports Relief.’ There, she kayaked for 2,010 miles on the River Amazon, covering the stretch from Peru to Brazil. Thus, she earned two ‘Guinness World Records,’ one for the longest path crossed by a woman kayaker in 24 hours and the other for the longest solo kayak journey.
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In the early 2010s, while working at ‘Blue Peter,’ she also covered many sporting events, such as ‘Wimbledon.’ She also appeared as a guest presenter on shows such as ‘Mastermind.’ She was also part of the 2011 TV movie ‘Stephen Fry’s 100 Greatest Gadgets.’
In 2011, she served as a presenter for five episodes of the documentary series titled ‘Country Tracks.’ She then appeared as a guest presenter on the show ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks.’ She was also part of the 2012 TV short ‘Stargazing Challenges.’
In 2012, she narrated an episode of the documentary series ‘My Life,’ titled ‘Boxing Girls.’ The same year, she appeared as a guest presenter on the shows ‘The Big Sport Relief Warm Up’ and ‘The Great British Stories- Regional Histories.’
She got a big break when she was hired to present the 2012 ‘London Olympics.’ In addition, she also appeared as a presenter on the show ‘Strictly Come Dancing.’
In 2012, she completed yet another feat when she became the first person ever to travel to the South Pole on a bicycle. She did it to raise money for sports relief. She kite-skied for 329 miles and, in the process, created a world record for the fastest 100km covered by kite-skiing.
After working in ‘Blue Peter’ for 5 years, she quit the series in 2013. Following this, she appeared as a presenter of women’s football matches for ‘BT Sports.’ At the same time, she also reported for many other ‘BBC’ programs.
In the mid-2010s, she covered shows such as ‘The Instant Gardener’ and ‘Tonight: Kids vs Career.’ In 2016, she co-hosted the ‘European Swimming Championships.’ She also covered the swimming events at the 2016 ‘Summer Olympics.’ She also hosted a few episodes of ‘Lorraine’ on ‘ITV’ and co-presented a few episodes of ‘Walks with My Dog.’
She currently hosts a weekly show on ‘BBC Radio 5 Live’ every Sunday.
She has also written a novel titled ‘Amy Wild: Amazon Summer,’ which was published in May 2015.