Who Dares contestant, 18, opens up about mother's death as a child

Youngest ever SAS: Who Dares Wins finalist, 18, admits she’s been searching for a sense of ‘belonging’ since losing her mother to breast cancer aged 13

  • Justine Pellew-Harvey, 18, Cornwall is youngest recruit on SAS: Who Dares Wins
  • Teenager moved from Italy to the UK after her mother died when she was just 13 
  • Says joining the Army Cadet Force helped her cope with losing her beloved mum

The youngest contestant on SAS: Who Dares Wins has revealed how joining the Army Cadet Force helped her cope with the death of her mother as a child. 

Justine Pellew-Harvey, 18, moved from Italy to Cornwall after her mum died of breast cancer when she was 13 – and today revealed how joining the youth organisation gave her a much-needed ‘distraction’ from her grief. 

The high-achiever climbed to Everest Base Camp when she was 16, came first in the 10K Royal Marines 2018 Commando Challenge and has been offered a place at the Sorbonne to study Slavic languages.

Appearing on Lorraine she said she hadn’t discussed her mother’s death much prior to appearing on the military reality show, and had tried to ‘put aside’ her pain and ‘move on’. 

She admitted that despite training six hours a day for three months ahead of the show, nothing could have prepared her for how ‘mentally tough’ the training programme would be. 

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Justine Pellew-Harvey is the youngest contestant on the sixth season of SAS: Who Dares Wins and revealed how joining the Army Cadet Force helped her cope with the death of her mother as a child

Justine Pellew-Harvey, 18, moved from Italy to Cornwall after her mum died of breast cancer when she was 13. She is pictured with her mother and father as a child

When asked whether she had spoken much about the death of her mum, Justine said: ‘No, not really. My way of dealing with it was kind of putting it to one side and moving on, I think that’s the way my whole family dealt with it. 

‘Once I joined the army cadets, when I was 13, that helped me get through it, because it opened up so many opportunities for me.  

‘Through cadets I’ve done a three month expedition to the Yukon in Canada, Germany for a skiing tour, I’ve done Duek of Edinburgh – it opened up so many opportunities and that’s around the time it happened. So it kind of distracted me and was something else to think about.’ 

Appearing on the show’s sixth season premiere, Justine opened up to instructors Anthony ‘Staz’ Stazicker and Jason Fox about her mum’s death.   

Appearing on Lorraine she said she hadn’t discussed her mother’s death much prior to appearing on the military reality show

She admitted to host Lorraine Kelly that despite training six hours a day three months ahead of the show, nothing could have prepared her for how ‘mentally tough’ the training programme would be

‘I think I’ve always had that gap,’ said Justine. ‘That’s why I joined cadets, because I wanted to feel like I belonged to something.’

Later in the episode she added: ‘I didn’t cry at the funeral. I literally held it in the whole day because I was just trying to get my head around the fact that I would never see her again.’ 

She added of her family: ‘We didn’t really talk about my mum’s death at all. That’s how we coped with it.’

The teenager admitted that despite her rigorous physical training months prior to the show, she wasn’t ready for how challenging the course would be psychologically. 

‘I kind of was ready for force physically,’ she said. ‘I spent six hours a day training three months before I went on the course, but nothing can prepare you for how tough it is mentally.

‘You learn very quickly learn it’s 10 per cent how physically capable you are and 90 per cent [your mind] and nothing can prepare you for the mental side of it.’ 

The Channel 4 show sees ex-Special Forces soldiers recreate the SAS’s secret selection process and put 30 recruits through the rigorous selection process. Justine is pictured with her fellow recruits on the show

The Channel 4 show sees ex-Special Forces soldiers recreate the SAS selection process and put 30 recruits through the rigorous selection process, and Justine described the experience as ‘amazing and terrifying’.  

She said joining the military has always been a goal of hers, and that while the pandemic has changed her plans, one of her options is training for Royal Marines Officers selection. 

Speaking of joining the military, she said: ‘That’s always been a dream, ever since I was a pretty young kid. That’s definitely the plan. 

‘I have two or three options and coronavirus has changed my initial plan of going to Paris and getting a degree, that’s going to take four years, which will take four years off other things I could be doing in the meantime. 

‘At the moment I’m training for the next, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this but I’m going to say it anyway, Royal Marines Officers selection.’ 

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