What this British TV host is doing for Haiyan victims

By Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Mar 19 2014 10:36 AM | Updated as of Mar 19 2014 06:36 PM

British TV host Alex Jones is climbing a mountain to raise funds for victims of Typhoon Haiyan on behalf of UK Charity Sport Relief

LONDON - British television presenter Alex Jones has begun her ascent towards the top of North America’s tallest vertical rock in a bid to raise funds for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Jones, who is the co-host of primetime magazine program The One Show on BBC One, is doing the challenge as part of Sport Relief, an annual charity fundraising event in the UK.

The Welsh presenter is climbing Moonlight Buttress at Zion National Park in Utah, USA, aiming to reach a staggering height of 1,200 feet, which is higher than The Shard, an 87-storey skyscraper in London and currently the tallest building in the European Union.

"I've been fortunate enough over the years to visit various Sport Relief projects and have seen, first-hand, the difference the money makes. Despite having no climbing experience, I felt compelled to say yes to this challenge,” Jones said in a statement through the BBC.

The 37-year-old, who celebrates her birthday on the first day of the climb, underwent intensive training for three months in preparation for the three-day climb, where she is expected to burn 700 calories per hour and sleep rough on a suspended tent by a cliff.

"To be honest it's daunting and the intense training has been incredibly tough,” she revealed. “I can't quite get my head round hauling my body weight up one of North America's tallest vertical rock faces. I’ll also have to try and master suspended sleeping and the delicate issue of 'toilet etiquette' but the thought of helping those in need will get me through, and I am relying on the public’s support to make all the difference.”

The TV personality is raising funds for victims of Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, the world’s strongest typhoon to ever hit land. It devastated the Philippines in November 2013, claiming over 6,000 lives while displacing thousands more and destroying infrastructure, homes and livelihoods. International aid has poured into the country since, while extensive rebuilding and rehabilitation is also ongoing.

Jones recently travelled to Tacloban, the area worst hit by the super typhoon, to witness the situation for herself as part of a series of reports for Sport Relief, which will be broadcasted on her BBC show throughout the week.

In the reports, the British fundraiser was visibly stunned by the scale of devastation, and was also touched by the different kinds of people she met in the country, from families cramped in make-shift houses who still manage to smile, to helpful locals initiating the rebuild at grassroots level using indigenous materials like coconut wood.

The Sports Relief challenge, dubbed as Alex Against The Rock, is taking place on March 18-20. Viewers in the UK will be able to follow Jones’ progress through The One Show on BBC One at 7pm until Friday, March 21, or online through BBC iPlayer.

At the time of writing, Jones has already raised over £200,000 in donations and sponsorship, approximately P15 million. The fundraising will continue alongside other events for Sport Relief, which runs until March 23. For more information, visit http://www.sportrelief.com/latest/therock.