Blue Peter: Wheelchair racer Abby Cook announced as new presenter

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

The 20-year-old will make her debut on the world’s longest-running children’s show on Friday (10 March), during which she will showing her skills at the track and meeting animals in the studio.

Cook, who hails from Falkirk in Scotland, said that she was “speechless” when she learnt she’d got the job on the CBBC series, which first aired in 1958.

“I had to check it was true,” she said. “It was a very emotional moment knowing I would actually be presenting a show I love and had grown up with.”

Wheelchair user Cook trains twice a week with Paralympians as part of the athletics club Forth Valley Flyers.

Since studying applied biological science at college, she has worked as a mental health project administrator for Scottish Disability Sport and for an initiative encouraging disabled and non-disabled young people to get active.

Explaining her history with the show, Cook said: “Helen [Skelton[ and Barney [the dog] 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].

Cook is the 42nd host of ‘Blue Peter' (BBC / James Stack)
Cook is the 42nd host of ‘Blue Peter' (BBC / James Stack)

“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.”

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.

“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.”

Cook will join current presenting team Mwaka Mudenda, Joel Mawhinney and Henry the dog.

Additional reporting by Press Association