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Celebrity Big Brother star Bradley Riches to run London Landmarks Half Marathon

Celebrity Big Brother star Bradley Riches is to take on the London Landmarks Half Marathon to raise money for an autism charity and “normalise being neurodivergent”.

The half marathon takes place on April 7 and Riches said he has “always wanted” to take on a challenge to raise money for charity even though “running has never come naturally to me”.

He has fitted in training where he can, which became more challenging when he was “locked away” in the Celebrity Big Brother house in March, but he still managed to do some workouts.

“In the mornings, there would usually not be too much to do, so I would do arm and leg workouts and jumping jacks with some of the people in there,” the 22-year-old who lives in Buckinghamshire told the PA news agency.

Man posing outside building
Bradley Riches was in the latest series of Celebrity Big Brother (Bradley Riches/PA)

Riches will be raising money for the National Autistic Society, a cause close to his heart as he was diagnosed with autism at the age of nine.

“When I was younger, I didn’t use words as a way to communicate with people, I’d use movement or sound,” he said.

“I got my diagnosis when I was nine years old, which is very early and I’m very fortunate for that because I remember for the first nine years I felt like an alien.”

Riches is known for his role as James McEwan in Heartstopper and has said acting was “an escapism for me”.

“I went to drama class and then I started getting more vocal and then went into acting and became even more confident,” he said.

“I started speaking just because I felt like I wanted to communicate in that way, but then I obviously didn’t use that muscle before so I had a stammer and that’s when the bullying started.

“Since I’ve got this platform, I just really wanted to normalise being neurodivergent and educating people on what it is because a lot of the time when I was growing up, I didn’t know what being autistic was and now I can speak about it very openly.”

Man pointing at door
Bradley Riches said he wants to normalize being neurodivergent (Bradley Riches/PA)

He said being in the Celebrity Big Brother house also allowed him to be his authentic self.

“I thought it would take quite a while for me to feel comfortable and accepted, especially living with so many people which I’ve never done,” he said.

“It was day three and we did that retreat and it was like free therapy and as everyone was being so open and I thought, I have to be open as well.

“After that moment, I felt like people now understood me and I could put everything on the table and just be me and everyone can see me for me.”

Viewers watched as he became the seventh housemate to be evicted in a twist, which saw presenter AJ Odudu tell him the news while he sitting waiting for a family member or friend to greet him for a rendezvous.

“It obviously looked brutal because I was so excited and so happy, but it was the second to last day and I had so much fun in there,” he said.

Man pointing at background
Bradley Riches was the seventh housemate evicted from the Big Brother house (Bradley Riches/PA)

He said since leaving the house, he has received lots of messages from people thanking him for raising awareness of being neurodivergent.

“I was just being for 24 hours a day and getting filmed and I think that’s a big thing, just seeing someone who’s like you on screen, even when I’m not talking about being autistic,” he said.

“I also had a lot of comments about me stimming when I was excited to see my family and people saying, just seeing that on an ITV screen is great to see.”

On the day of the half marathon, Riches’ partner Scott Johnston, his sister, best friend and dog will be in attendance to support him.

Pascale Harvie, president and general manager of JustGiving, said: “Like so many people across the country, I have been inspired by Bradley.

“He has raised significant awareness and support for others by bravely sharing his own experience as a person with autism.

“From everyone at JustGiving we wish Bradley the very best of luck in reaching his fundraising target for the National Autistic Society and we will be cheering him on every step of the way at the half marathon this weekend.”

Riches’ fundraising page is here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/bradley-riches-1707482241440