At the end of last year, a group of celebrities braved the elements as they took on a challenge like no other – walking 100 kilometres across the Sahara Desert.
Podcaster and TV presenter Giovanna Fletcher, former reality star Vicky Pattison, influencer Kelsey Parker, TOWIE’s Pete Wicks, 2016 Bake Off winner Candice Brown and Dr Emeka Okorocha embarked on the epic journey as team captains of more than 100 other trekkers, all in the hope of raising vital funds for breast cancer charity CoppaFeel!. And boy did they smash it!
The celebrities walked for up to 10 hours a day, before sleeping under the stars and then waking up to do it all again.
Opening up to OK! a few days after she returned from the trek, Kelsey told us she found the experience in the Sahara Desert to be one she’ll never forget.
Kelsey, 32, has been channelling her grief into projects close to her heart following the death of her late husband, The Wanted singer Tom Parker, in March last year. And the star believes that Tom was with her every step of the way on this tough challenge.
Here, Kelsey, who is mum to Aurelia, three, and Bodhi, two, tells us more.
Hi, Kelsey! How was the trip?
It was just incredible. I needed a challenge for this year and thought there’s nothing bigger than trekking the Sahara. It’s something I’ll always have in my heart
and a memory I’ll always treasure.
Cancer is something which has affected you personally [Tom died after being diagnosed with a brain tumour]. Was it emotional doing the trek?
It was emotional because I had people in my team who had stage four cancer, and I’ve just been living with someone who
had stage four cancer for 18 months. One of the guys on my team lost his wife to breast cancer three years ago. I felt like we were put on the same team for a reason because I was talking to him about where his daughter was at now.
My kids are going to be at that stage after losing their dad and we spoke about the road ahead, like the kids going to school. I can’t talk to everyone about that because they don’t know what I’ve been through or what I am going through. But he actually understood it all and how I felt. It was tough.
Did you do the trek for Tom?
I knew he was there with me and I thought I’m 100% doing this for him. We got to the top of one sand dune and a butterfly flew past me. Butterflies are my thing with Tom. My team were like, “He’s here with us.” I had to be strong out there because
I wanted to be there for my team. Cancer affects us all and life is tough. Maybe they looked at me and thought, “If she can get through this, we can get through anything.”
You recently opened up about your grief in the ITV documentary Kelsey Parker: Life After Tom . What has the reaction been like?
It’s been overwhelming. I’d been filming it for such a long time that I kind of forgot I’d filmed it. When it went out, I was like, “Oh my God, it’s real, people are seeing how I am grieving.” I’ve had so many messages saying thank you because we don’t talk about grief enough in this country.
To register your interest for CoppaFeel!’s CoppaTrek! with Gi 2023, visit coppafeel.org
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