ENTERTAINMENT
06/02/2018 09:08 GMT

Zoe Ball Plans Sport Relief Cycling Challenge In Honour Of Her Late Boyfriend, Billy Yates

Billy took his own life in May 2017.

Zoe Ball has announced she’ll be participating in a Sport Relief challenge this year, explaining that she’s planning a gruelling, cycling ride.

The presenter is getting involved to raise aware of mental health, following the death of her boyfriend, Billy Yates.

Cameraman Billy, who worked on programmes including ‘The One Show’, took his own life in May 2017.

A post shared by Zoe Ball (@zoetheball) on

Speaking on Monday’s (5 February) ‘The One Show’, she explained: “One of the issues that Sport Relief is supporting is mental health, and that’s something that is very close to my heart.

“My boyfriend struggled with depression and he died last year. After he died I was left with lots of questions. I think it is one in four of us in the UK that are living with mental illness.

“Those figures are huge, so most people you meet are going to have been touched by this subject.”

“Mental health resources are under huge pressure and I think a lot of people aren’t necessarily getting the right help as quickly as they could.”

As well as taking on the physical challenge, Zoe will make a documentary.

She added: “I am going to visit some projects that funded by Comic Relief that are helping people find a way to move forward, and hopefully meet some families who have gone through what myself and Billy’s family have gone through.”

“And ask the questions about what are we doing, how are are we helping, and where can we turn for help? What should loved ones be doing?

“There’s a lot of subjects here so I’m going to go out and visit these projects, see the work that’s being done, and encourage people to get involved. That’s why I’m doing it.”

A post shared by Zoe Ball (@zoetheball) on

Zoe has publicly paid tribute to Billy on multiple occasions since his death and folllowing four weeks off from her Radio 2 show in the weeks immediately after, she returned to the airwaves in June last year.

“As most of you know I’ve been away for the past four weeks - been a pretty tough time actually, having lost my dear, dear boyfriend, Billy,” she told listeners during her first show back.

“I would really like to thank the ever-gorgeous ladies Kate Thornton, Suzi Perry and Melanie C, for holding the fort so brilliantly whilst I was away, everyone at the BBC and all my friends for all their support and Billy’s dear family, his brilliant friends, [and] my family.”

She continued: “I would really like to thank you, the listeners, for all your kind thoughts and for reaching out with love. Especially many of you who’ve experienced your own loss and grief in similar circumstances.

“Your messages have meant the world to us all, so, I send you all love from the bottom of my heart.”

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk