Adele Roberts & Kate Holderness: charity abseil

Estimated reading time:5 minutes, 34 seconds

Everyone has a story. Celebrities have all the fun – or do they? Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts and her girlfriend, Kate Holderness, talk about why they were willing to do a massive abseil for the children’s charity Barnado’s. Plus ideas for fun outings around Islington. Interview by Nicola Baird.

Kate Roberts and Adele Holderness at the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit. (c) Barnardo’s

It used to be just a sculptural landmark, created by Sir Anish Kapoor, but from April 2018 the 262 feet ArcelorMittal Orbit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park offers daredevils the chance to experience the UK’s highest freefall abseil. The good news is that there are other ways down from the top besides abseiling – a lift, steps and the world’s longest tunnel slide. But for charity fundraising the abseil is perfect.

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You might know Adele Roberts from her Radio 1 show (4-6.30am) or even Big Brother. Adele is super sporty so when Barnardo’s fundraising team suggested she did this abseil to raise awareness about the charity she was quick to say yes. But she wasn’t so sure how keen her girlfriend, actress Kate Holderness, would feel about the plan. “Adele told me the night before!” says Kate still horrified. “One of my greatest fears is heights. I didn’t sleep well. I was half-scared and in a weird daze thinking ‘you’ve only just told me’… Dangling over I had a small panic attack and cried. I couldn’t follow instructions, I kept saying ‘no’. But once it was over I enjoyed it,” says Kate laughing when we meet at The General Store, a new café/bar attached to the Garage close to Highbury Corner.

Even Adele admits that abseiling was mentally tougher than she expected, calling it the “longest five minutes of my life”.

The pair, who both grew up on council estates in north east England but now live in Holloway, N7, were willing to put themselves through abseiling hell because they are big supporters of Barnardo’s.

“It’s one of those charities I learnt about at school,” says Adele. “It makes children feel welcome. In this world of increasing social media it’s important to let children know there’s someone there to help them. Barnardo’s has recently been helping the hidden homeless, often teenagers, who may have been displaced because home can be dangerous or they are gay. Barnardo’s puts them on to the right path for help and makes it clear that they believe a child’s future should never be defined by their past.”


Barnardo’s in a nutshell
Thomas Barnardo arrived in the East End of London in 1866 and set up a ragged school the following year, dedicating his life to supporting the most vulnerable children. Today Barnardo’s is the UK’s largest children’s charity, supporting 272,000 children, young people and families each year through more than 1,000 services across the UK. Barnardo’s London operates in Islington and has regional office and meeting space off Holloway Road.


Adele Roberts: “The longest five minutes of my life.” (c) Barnardo’s

“When I first moved here I noticed that people move so fast. We thought they’d walk through you!” says Adele who gets up at 2am every day for her job, but still finds time to explore London.

“It’s exciting. London’s young people are taught to dream here. London is a place of opportunity,” she says comparing it to the feeling she had when growing up that life would be bleaker and you’d never get off benefits or have the right to do any job you wanted. Kate finishes the sentence… “and in London there’s such a mix of cultures. My Dad is amazed how well people get on.”

Safely down: Adele and Kate after safely abseiling down the 262 feet ArcelorMittal Orbit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park  (c) Barnardo’s

Adele Roberts and Kate Holderness abseiled down the 262 foot Olympic landmark helter-skelter to raise awareness for Barnardo’s. (c) Barnardo’s

Places Adele Roberts and Kate Holderness love in Islington

Below are some of the places in Islington they enjoy – and you might too:

Kate: I love lists and stationery so can spend hours in Muji (at Angel Central) and Cowling & Wilcox, 52 Holloway Road. See how Kate uses what she buys on her YouTube channel kateholdernessvlogs

Adele: I like to go running and run in beautiful Finsbury Park every day. It has health benefits – mental and physical. I find I have so many good ideas running.

Adele: Camden Passage reminds me of old London – it’s like I imagine life in a Dickens’ novel. I’m always trying to get into the Breakfast Club, 31 Camden Passage, but it’s always busy and have to queue.

Adele: When I was training for the Marathon (which she finished in 3 hours and 36 minutes) and doing a lot of running, I found that my muscles needed the treatments and plunge pool to stop injury so I’d go to Ironmonger Row Baths, 1 Norman Street, EC1. It feels fancy, like a spa, but it’s quite cheap.

Kate: Bodean’s BBQ restaurant in Old Street, 201 City Road, does lovely American chicken, ribs and fries. It’s one of the first places we ate in when we came to London. We tried to find a place where we could live for a while and lucked out finding Islington. It’s a community where everyone gets on and an amazing area.

Kate: Treasure Land at 524 Holloway Road sells crystals. I love the way the incense wafts down to Morrisons.

Kate: Nag’s Head Market is like being in New York – there are lots of different cultures and cuisines.

Adele: We love Angel Central, 21 Parkfield Street, with its massive wings which looks best at Christmas, and it has Muji and Tiger – the two sides of Kate!


Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird dot green at gmail dot com.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or Meet Islingtonians to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by, Nicola.