Comedian, Chris Ramsey, joined Billy as he tackled the first stretch from Newcastle to Durham
Professional racing driver, Billy Monger started Billy’s Big Red Nose Day Challenge at the Millennium Bridge, Gateshead, today
Comedian, Chris Ramsey, joined Billy for part of the journey in the glorious North East rain and received good luck messages from Gabby Logan and Steve Jones
Hills and long walks prove to be mental and physical test as Billy walks the furthest he’s ever walked
Billy has three more days to go as he makes his way to the end point at Brands Hatch in Kent
Money raised by Red Nose Day this year will help tackle issues including homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse and mental health problems, all of which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, in the UK and around the world
For more info visit comicrelief.com/billy-monger
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Today, Billy Monger kick started his 140-mile, four-day triathlon inspired challenge, Billy’s Big Red Nose Day Challenge, in the North East of England, to raise money for people struggling now more than ever.
Billy, a professional racing driver and double leg amputee, set off from the Millennium Bridge, which has been illuminated in red in his honour, in rainy Gateshead at 7:45am this morning, where he began his first stretch – an epic, eighteen-mile walk to Durham Cathedral, whilst battling the miserable wind and rain.
As he was setting off this morning, Billy received good luck messages from friends, family and famous faces including TV presenters Gabby Logan and Steve Jones.
Gabby Logan said: “Billy Monger, you are an incredible human being, and I was fortunate enough to meet you two years ago at BBC Sports Personality of The Year, where you blew me away and blew us all away – the audience and everybody in the room that night – with your bravery and your courage and your resilience and your positivity which oozes from every pore of your being. And that is what is going to get you through 140-miles of kayaking, and walking and cycling, and it’s all for such a wonderful cause, and I know you will be the inspiration that you were born to be, so good luck Billy."
Steve Jones said: “Billy, you are such an inspiration, you are an extraordinary person and I’m honoured to call you a friend. Let’s be honest, you’re going to absolutely beast this challenge, you can pretty much do the whole thing with me on your back; but failing that I am there in spirit. Lots of love and good luck."
Billy’s eighteen-mile walk today – which is the longest distance he has ever walked– took him via the iconic Angel of the North, where he met surprise supporter, comedian, Chris Ramsey. Chris joined Billy for part of the journey as he made his way out of Gateshead towards the day’s finish line, Durham Cathedral.
Billy Monger said: "It felt pretty surreal today, especially when I saw the start line and the bridge lit up in red. Suddenly it all felt very real. Walking batters my legs. Muscle wise and strength wise the morning felt good, but by lunchtime my right leg was hurting a lot. Mentally, this is the toughest day for me. Today was always going to be more of a mental challenge and a battle to get the prosthetics right.
“The last 1k was the toughest of them all. It was uphill on cobbled streets but even though it was the toughest it was the most enjoyable as I knew the finish line was in sight. I somehow found another gear to get me up that last hill. This is a once in a lifetime experience for me and it's for such a great cause. I'll never forget today. Now I need to get mentally prepared for tomorrow."
Billy added: “When I was approached about doing this challenge. I knew if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it the way any non-disabled person would. I took part in Red Nose Day stuff at school when I was younger. I never could have imagined doing one of these challenges myself. But so many people helped me after my accident, I feel like this is a way of giving something back. Raising money to make sure other people can get support if they need in difficult times, it's that motivation that got me through the first day."
Chris Ramsey said: “I met Billy for the first part of his challenge today and kept him company for a couple of miles in the glorious North East rain. What he is attempting is epic. It would be tough for anyone, let alone a double amputee. I have no doubt he'll smash it, but it'll be a struggle, so I really hope the public get behind him and give what they can. He is the most determined guy I have ever met and such a lovely lad. He deserves all the support in the world."
Today was the first of several huge distances Billy will tackle over the coming days, as he walks, cycles and kayaks across England to raise life-changing cash for Red Nose Day. Tomorrow, Billy will take to freezing open water and kayak 16 miles for the second part of his challenge. Before training for this challenge Billy had never Kayaked in his life.
People at home will be able to see all the highs and lows of Billy’s challenge in an hour-long special documentary, filmed by a reduced crew that will be adhering to strict Covid-19 guidelines throughout the challenge, on BBC One in March.
Money raised by Red Nose Day this year will whelp tackle issues including homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse, and mental health problems, all of which have been exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic, in the UK and around the world.
To support Billy, go to comicrelief.com/billy-monger