Scottish wheelchair racer Abby Cook announced as new Blue Peter presenter

​Wheelchair racer Abby Cook has been announced as the 42nd Blue Peter presenter.

The new host of the long-running children's TV show will join Mwaka Mudenda, Joel Mawhinney and Henry the dog as she makes her debut on Friday by showing her skills at the track and meeting animals in the studio.

Cook, from Falkirk, said: "I was speechless when I found out, I had to check it was true. It was a very emotional moment knowing I would actually be presenting a show I love and had grown up with."

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Since studying applied biological science at Forth Valley College, she has worked with Forth Valley Disability Sport, supporting disabled and non-disabled young people becoming active, and as a mental health project administrator for Scottish Disability Sport.

Abby Cook who has been announced as the 42nd Blue Peter presenter. Picture: BBC/PA WireAbby Cook who has been announced as the 42nd Blue Peter presenter. Picture: BBC/PA Wire
Abby Cook who has been announced as the 42nd Blue Peter presenter. Picture: BBC/PA Wire

The 20-year-old wheelchair user also trains twice a week with Paralympians as part of the athletics club Forth Valley Flyers and also likes to do wheelies at her local skate park.

Cook added: "Helen [Skelton] and [dog] Barney were my era, but I also became obsessed with watching You Decide when the public got to choose the latest presenter and they picked Lindsey [Russell].

"I remember thinking what a great role model she was. She had never presented before, but here was this strong woman going on the show and doing an amazing job.

"I'm hoping to do the same because I know what a lasting impression the presenters can have on the audience."

During her interview for Blue Peter, when she was not told it was a BBC show, she said "here's one I made earlier" when playing the ukulele.

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She will combat her fear of heights as she takes on her first challenge to collect a Blue Peter badge by abseiling down Millers Dale Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Blue Peter editor Ellen Evans said: "When Abby came to the studio, we knew she would be great for the show because she has an unstoppable 'can do' attitude.

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"She's up for any challenge and we know she'll connect beautifully with our audience because she has a real affinity for working with young people, but she also has the biggest of hearts."

The appointment comes as with Blue Peter set to be renamed and change colour for the first time in its 65-year history for Comic Relief.

The special, Red Peter, will feature challenges by Blue Peter presenters and musical performances as the long-running children’s show gets a Red Nose Day shake-up.

Previously, presenter AJ Odudu, Doctor Who actor David Tennant, comedian Joel Dommett, Take Me Out and Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness and radio DJ Zoe Ball were announced as hosts of this year’s Red Nose Day.

McGuinness said appearing this year without long-running Comic Relief presenter Sir Lenny Henry “for the first time ever” will be “so strange”.

More details have also been confirmed about a series of sketches, which include segments about Love Island and Blackadder, as well as material featuring Kylie Minogue with the cast of the hit supernatural comedy Ghosts.

Comic Relief is also set to raise temperatures with a sketch set on ITV’s Love Island, as an unexpected arrival rocks the villa in South Africa.

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