This year, BBC Children in Need has collaborated with The One Show, Morning Live, and BBC Radio 2 to introduce something truly special – The Challenge Squad.
As revealed on The One Show this evening, the formidable Challenge Squad comprises four exceptional young individuals who have benefited from funding by BBC Children in Need. They will be supported by Jermaine Jenas, Alex Jones, Roman Kemp, and Vernon Kay as they embark on remarkable personal challenges, all aimed at making a positive impact on the lives of young people.
In the upcoming weeks, these young individuals will learn about the challenges set by their celebrity ambassadors. These efforts will culminate in some extraordinarily meaningful moments during BBC Children in Need’s 2023 Appeal week. Notably, two of these challenges will be featured live on BBC Children in Need’s 2023 Appeal show. Further details will be shared soon, but audiences can anticipate two profoundly moving performances, one of which will dazzle with some extra special Strictly sparkle!
Over the past month, The One Show and Morning Live have been encouraging supporters across the UK to ‘Challenge Yourself’ and be ‘SPOTacular’ for BBC Children in Need. They hope that the Challenge Squad will serve as an inspiration for everyone to participate. There’s still time to fundraise, whether it involves scaling a mountain or taking on a baking challenge. Every contribution will go a long way in making a difference in young lives. This year, for the first time, every pound donated or raised in support of Challenge Yourself and the Challenge Squad will be matched (up to a value of £1.5 million) by Postcode Education Trust, supported through People’s Postcode Lottery.
Viewers of The One Show will have the opportunity to witness the unfolding of the Challenge Squad’s endeavors each evening, while also getting to know the inspiring stories of these young individuals leading up to the BBC Children in Need Appeal Show.
Alex Jones of The One Show, who will be championing the squad and mentoring one of the young participants for their challenge, expressed, “We’re so happy to be supporting BBC Children in Need again! I’m looking forward to bringing the audience along on the journey with us and to see the Challenge Squad each complete an epic task.”
Also championing the squad, Jermaine Jenas added: “It is no secret that the last few years have been extremely difficult for so many children and young people around the UK. It warms our heart to be able to draw attention to the essential work of some of the incredible projects that BBC Children in Need fund and to share the difference these projects make to so many on a personal level.”
Roman Kemp who will also be mentoring one of the squad as they prepare for their challenge, commented: “I am proud to join the Challenge Squad on their journeys to encourage conversations that can help and to shine a light on the brilliant work of BBC Children in Need’s incredible projects that really do change young lives when they need it most. I hope that the stories and journeys of the powerful young individuals in the Challenge Squad inspire others to challenge themselves and make a difference.”
Vernon Kay, who will teaming up with one of squad as they undertake their epic challenge commented: “Each and every member of the Challenge Squad represents a different organisation that has transformed the reality of so many families and young people at a time in their life when they need it most. I am delighted to join the squad as they undertake some incredible challenges, I just hope they don’t show me up too much!”
The Challenge Squad comprises the following young individuals:
Erin, 15, from East Renfrewshire, serves as a young carer for her mum, Sinead, who battles a rare form of multiple sclerosis (MS). Since Sinead’s diagnosis in 2016, mobility and basic household tasks have become increasingly challenging. It wasn’t until Erin and her family were introduced to East Renfrewshire Young Carers that they identified her as a young carer. With funding from BBC Children in Need, this project provides a safe haven for young carers to share their concerns, find respite from their responsibilities at home, and build friendships with shared experiences.
Angelos, 19, from London, received a diagnosis of sclerosing rhabdomyosarcoma – an uncommon form of cancer – in 2021. Given the pandemic’s restrictions, this period was particularly devastating for both Angelos and his family, as hospital visits were severely limited. Against all odds, treatments proved successful, and in 2022, scans revealed he was free of cancer. However, readjusting to daily life after such a traumatic experience proved to be a challenge. Through a recommendation, Angelos was connected with Teens Unite Fighting Cancer, a charity backed by BBC Children in Need. They’ve aided Angelos in adapting to life post-diagnosis and overcoming the enduring effects of cancer. By participating in the charity’s activities and residential stays, Angelos has forged bonds with other young people affected by cancer, acquired new skills, and embraced fresh opportunities, all without the hindrance of cancer.
James, 14, from Hertfordshire, was only nine years old when his father, Paul, passed away. Paul suffered from a rare condition called Takayasu Arteritis and succumbed to complications during heart surgery. James found it incredibly challenging to come to terms with his father’s passing. He struggled to accept the reality and experienced separation anxiety when away from his mother, Claire. James and Claire discovered Stand-by-me, a bereavement charity supported by BBC Children in Need. Stand-by-me assists young people in comprehending their grief, learning how to manage their emotions, and building networks of support through their groupwork programme.
Brianna, 16, from Ipswich, was born with a rare genetic condition known as Cat Eye Syndrome and underwent open heart surgery at just one week old. Following this initial surgery, the family was introduced to the Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation (ECHO) – a project now funded by BBC Children in Need. Mum Sinead vividly recalls the comfort derived from the advice and support of parents who understood their journey. The project has been a constant source of support ever since. Through ECHO, Brianna has received both practical and emotional support for her complex health conditions, and she attests to finding a place where she “truly belongs.”
Joanne Vaughan-Jones, Editor of The One Show, commented on the Challenge Squad, saying, “We are absolutely delighted to be sharing the inspirational personal stories of the truly remarkable team of young people that are championing the Challenge Squad by taking on some very personal challenges which will inspire audiences and raise funds at a time when they are needed most. The Squad are just amazing and the challenges are certainly going to be incredibly special.”
Tommy Nagra, Director of Content at BBC Children in Need, added, “The young people that make up the Challenge Squad embody the strength and solidarity of our next generation. It is fantastic that The One Show and Morning Live are shining a spotlight on the powerful stories of the squad and the projects that have supported them. Whilst we recognise that times are tough, we hope viewers at home are inspired by the Squad and donate what they can to help make a difference for children and young people around the UK.”
Tune in to The One Show from October 19th to November 20th on BBC One at 7pm to witness the challenges unfold. To make a donation, please visit www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey