Back to school for TV star Helen

Presenter Helen Skelton won't easily forget what happened as she was filming a TV documentary at a Lancaster school - it was the first time she laid eyes on her new nephew.

Helen Skelton
Helen Skelton

The 33-year-old had been working with pupils at Ripley St Thomas CE Academy as part of the BBC’s #LoveToRead campaign, when little Henry Skelton was born at nearby Lancaster Hospital.

She said: “I am originally from Appleby in Cumbria, which is around 45 minutes from Lancaster, so I have spent a lot of time in Lancaster.

“I split my time between here with my family, as well as France, where I live with my son and husband (Catalan Dragons rugby league star Richie Myler.)

“My nephew Henry was born in Lancaster Hospital the week I was filming in July.

“It was nice to catch up with family and meet my new nephew. I am up here a lot of the time.”

The former Blue Peter presenter added that she enjoyed working with Ripley Academy youngsters and co-presenter Javone Prince.

She now can’t wait to see the final results in The School that got Teens Reading, which will be aired on Saturday October 22 on BBC Two, at 8pm.

The documentary explores the constant challenge of inspiring reluctant teenagers to read.

Although Ripley is one of the county’s top schools, teachers face the same problems

as most secondaries in trying

to get teens to read for pleasure. The programme will hear that Ripley has exhausted every technique and tried hundreds of books but still can’t get all its pupils to engage in one of the most important skills imaginable – reading.

Helen said: “The programme is about encouraging people to read books.

“It is about tapping into something that they are into and finding books that are tailored to what the individual youngster will like. We are trying to find books that capture people’s imaginations.

“The pupils were brilliant. They were really sparky and there were lots of big characters.

“I found it very entertaining hanging out with these youngsters.”

Helen, who has penned her own book, Amy Wild: Amazon Summer, added that she loves to read autobiographies.

She said: “I am very nosy so I love autobiographies.

“I must have read Kate Adie’s autobiography five times.

“Books are escapism and I like ones that are easy to read. Giovanna Fletcher’s books are great as I can start and finish them within a few days.”

Following her stint in The School that got Teens Reading, Helen is currently working on a dog walking documentary for More Four.

The Countryfile presenter also has a big passion for sports and was involved in the coverage of the Olympics in Rio over the summer.

She is also ambassador for Eat Like a Champ campaign, encouraging children to eat healthily.

What is #LovetoRead?

Reading is one of life’s greatest joys and can awaken our imagination, inspire and challenge us – not just as children but throughout our lives.

That is why the BBC has launched #LovetoRead, a campaign to celebrate reading, spread over three weekends, starting from October 15.

It comprises a comprehensive and exciting season of programmes featuring Sue Townsend, Michael Palin, Marlon James, Willy Russell, Julie Walters, Chris Packham, Suggs, Cerys Matthews, Andrew Marr and of course Helen Skelton.

Split across TV, radio and online, the campaign encourages everyone to put aside some time and curl up with a book as BBC presenters will be signing off with their top reading recommendations.