Former Outwood MP Ed Balls celebrates birthday at 14,000ft as he climbs Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief

Mr Balls, who served as MP for Morley and Outwood until 2015, is one of a team of celebrities climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in an attempt to raise money for Comic Relief.
Mr Balls, who served as MP for Morley and Outwood until 2015, is one of a team of celebrities climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in an attempt to raise money for Comic Relief.

Former MP Ed Balls has celebrated his 52nd birthday at 14,000 feet, with a surprise gift from his wife, Yvette Cooper.

Mr Balls, who served as MP for Morley and Outwood until 2015, is one of a team of celebrities climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in an attempt to raise money for Comic Relief.

On Monday evening, he spoke to the One Show by video link, where Mrs Cooper, who currently serves as MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, admitted she had hidden a vacuum-packed version of his favourite dessert, sticky toffee pudding, in his bag, as well as birthday cards from their children.

He thanked his family for the pudding, and said: “Very sad not to be with the family but fabulous to be with all the people here.

“They made me a cake and everybody sang Happy Birthday, so it’s ok, but I’m missing the kids.

“I got the birthday cards, they said please don’t be too embarrassing - I’ve already failed!”

Team Kilimanjaro, which includes BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker, Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Shirley Ballas, from Strictly Come Dancing, are expected to complete the gruelling eight day trek to the mountain’s peak in time for the Red Nose Day live show on Friday, March 15.

A similar challenge, completed in 2009, raised more than £3,500,000 for Comic Relief.

Updates on the team’s progress are broadcast on BBC Breakfast, and again on the One Show in the evening.

Visit comicrelief.com for more information on the climb, or to donate to the team.