Helen Elizabeth Skelton was born on 19 July 1983, in Carlisle, Cumbria, England, and brought up on a dairy farm in the village of Kirkby Thore. She attended Kirkby Thore Primary School, and then Appleby Grammar School. She graduated from Cumbria Institute of the Arts, where she gained a BA degree in journalism. During her time at college, she worked as an extra on Coronation Street and Cutting It.
Skelton is a qualified tap dance teacher and has said that if she was not a broadcaster she would be a teacher. In December 2012, she took part in a Christmas Special edition of the BBC One programme Strictly Come Dancing.
Her brother, Gavin is a professional footballer and he has also been a player-manager.
After briefly working in public relations, Helen decided to concentrate on journalism. She worked in the newsroom at CFM Radio, and was involved with various programmes at Border Television, before becoming a breakfast presenter on BBC Radio Cumbria in 2005, becoming one of the youngest breakfast show presenters on the BBC network. She was then a reporter and occasional presenter on children's news programme Newsround and its weekend sports based version, Sportsround.
Skelton was revealed as a new Blue Peter presenter on 28 August 2008, replacing Zöe Salmon, becoming the 33rd presenter for the programme. In a challenge for the show, she took an uncredited role in the BBC production of Merlin. In August 2013, she announced her departure from the show. She was replaced by Radzi Chinyanganya. Skelton worked on other projects during her time on Blue Peter, mainly correspondent-based. These included reporting from the Championships, Wimbledon.
After her departure from Blue Peter, she became a presenter of live FA Women's Super League football matches for the BT Sport channel, as well as retaining her BBC reporter roles.
She has occasionally presented segments of Countryfile since 2008 and presented two series of Holiday Hit Squad in 2013 and 2014 alongside Angela Rippon and Joe Crowley. In 2014 and 2015, she presented the London Marathon Highlights show on the BBC. She was replaced by Ore Oduba in 2016.
Since 2015, Skelton has co-presented daytime BBC One series The Instant Gardener alongside Danny Clarke. In early 2016, she presented Tonight: Kids V Career.
Skelton also hosted coverage of The 2016 European Swimming Championships with Mark Foster and Rebecca Adlington. She worked for the BBC at the 2016 Summer Olympics presenting swimming coverage alongside Rebecca Adlington, Adrian Moorhouse, Andy Jameson and Mark Foster. In 2017, she returned to host the swimming coverage on the BBC during the 2017 World Aquatics Championships with Adlington and Foster. In October 2016, Skelton guest presented five episodes of Lorraine on ITV. She presented a further five episodes in February 2017. She co-presented two episodes of Walks with My Dog on More4 in 2017.
Skelton's first novel, Amy Wild: Amazon Summer, was published in May 2015.
In April 2009, Skelton became only the second woman ever to finish the 78-mile (126 km) Namibian ultra marathon. Skelton completed the run in 23 hours and 45 minutes – just 15 minutes under the time limit of one day. "It was a gruelling experience, but one I'll never forget. There were tough times but also amazing times," she told Newsround. Just weeks later, she completed the 2009 London Marathon.
In early 2010, Skelton kayaked the entire length of the River Amazon for Sport Relief 2010. She kayaked 2,010 miles (3,230 km) on a solo journey from Nauta in Peru on 20 January, to Almeirim, Brazil on 28 February. She achieved two Guinness World Records: the longest solo journey by kayak, and the longest distance in a kayak in 24 hours by a woman.
Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons after her Amazon challenge:
Skelton walked a 150-metre tightrope between chimneys at Battersea Power Station, 66 metres above ground, to raise money for Comic Relief on 28 February 2011. Blue Peter created two specials about her walk.
In 2012, Skelton raised more money for Sport Relief by becoming the first person to reach the South Pole using a bicycle. The bike was custom built for her trip, with 8-inch-wide tyres. She also used skis and a kite to help her pull a sled containing 82 kg of supplies.
She covered 329 miles by kite ski, 103 by bike and 69 by cross-country ski. She is also the first person to claim a world record for the fastest 100 km by kite ski, in seven hours 28 minutes, which was set during the trip. Guinness World Records commentated on the award saying "We are aware of explorers who have achieved longer distances, but Helen Skelton’s application was the first that Guinness World Records had received specifically for the 100-kilometre distance". Blue Peter also made five six-episode specials for this event.
In April 2013, wanting to inspire Blue Peter viewers to do something to support Comic Relief, she took on seven challenges set by Comic Relief while breaking one world record. She called this series of challenges her "Magnificent 7", a reference to the 1960 Western The Magnificent Seven:Rugby Kick – Failed
Performing In 2 Shows On One Night – Succeeded
Flying With the Red Arrows – Succeeded
Photo Shoot – Succeeded
Rope Bridge – Succeeded
Longest Line of Bunting – Succeeded (at the time, a World Record)
Coin Toss – Failed
In December 2013, Skelton married England national rugby league team player Richie Myler. Skelton gave birth to her first child, a boy named Ernie, on 19 June 2015. After Myler joined the Catalans Dragons club, they moved to France in September 2015. On 27 November 2016, Skelton revealed she is expecting her second child, due in Spring 2017. Her second son, Louis was born in April 2017.Television
What's Cooking? (2013) – Guest
Countdown (2013) – 'Dictionary Corner' guest
The Chase: Celebrity Special (2013) – Contestant
All Star Family Fortunes (2015) – Contestant
Blue Peter (2015) – Guest
The TV That Made Me (2015) – Subject
Pointless Celebrities – Contestant
Sunday Brunch (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) – Guest