Denise Van Outen joined forces with former TOWIE star Lydia Bright in 2017, to complete a gruelling 85K trek in the Himalayas. Both women spoke about the whole event as being a positive experience and one they will never forget. "What I experienced on this trek has changed my perception of the world," said Denise, 44, who is mum to daughter Betsy. "The greatest thing was meeting children from all the villages. Their families have lived in the same place for their entire lives and their existence is very simple" she explained. "The children wear hand-me-downs and walk for two hours to get to school but they’re happy. They even make their own toys. We saw them use wooden slats to build a toboggan to slide down the mountain. It made me realise that, despite the many material things we give our children in the West, the most precious gifts of all are love, nurture and education."
Denise Van Outen and Lydia Bright went on a 11 day charity trek
The adventure took place on 5 November and began at the foot of the Himalayas and was to raise awareness and much-needed funds for Brain Tumour Research. Brain tumours kill more people under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just one per cent of the national budget for cancer research is allocated to this devastating disease. "Many of us in the group have lost someone to a brain tumour, so we were keen to do our bit to help," says Denise. Lydia relished the chance to make a difference and trained for two months to build up her stamina for the 52-mile challenge. "I went to the gym as much as possible," says the 28-year-old who has competed in The Crystal Maze, The Jump and Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls. "By the time we set off, I felt in the best shape ever." Although Lydia, whose autobiography Live, Laugh, Love, Always, Lydia charts her story from girl next door to overnight star, is more accustomed to face masks than being caked in mud, she welcomed life in the wild. "I enjoyed being stripped back without make-up and sleeping rough,” she says. “But what I liked most was meeting people in the villages and witnessing the Himalayan ways. The people are so kind, gentle and giving. One lady we met didn’t have much, but she offered us what she had – the mint from her garden to make tea. Another danced for us in her sari, which was very touching. Music and dance are a big part of their culture."
Recalling the physical demands of the trek, Denise says: "You need stamina, good walking boots and the ability to adapt to sudden changes in temperature. It was hot when we set off early in the morning, but cold by late afternoon, so we had to change our clothes all the time."
Also joining them on the trek was Denise’s boyfriend Eddie Boxshall, her goddaughter Elicia Murphy and best friend Cozi Costi, and Lydia’s sister Georgia and friend Ariana Sefre. The former Big Breakfast presenter explained the feeling of euphoria at completing the mission, revealing: "The team hugged each other in a group and belted out We Are Family by Sister Sledge. I couldn’t have wished for a lovelier group. Of all the expeditions I’ve done, this was my favourite."