‘Doesn’t get spoken about’ Sky News’ Bela Shah opens up on illness that’s blighted family

Amy Dowden opens up about her battle with Crohn's disease

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Bela Shah, has revealed how her sister, mother and aunt all live with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition. The illness causes inflammation of the digestive tract, prompting sufferers to experience a wide range of symptoms including stomach ache, fatigue, diarrhoea, and mouth sores.

In most cases, it means being on a lifetime supply of medicines and in more severe cases, it can lead to surgical procedures, including a colostomy bag to help manage the condition.

Bela has supported her family through their battles with the disease and recently played a charity golf match with the intention of donating a cheque to Crohn’s and Colitis UK, if she won.

Opening up on her decision to donate money to the charity, the Sky News star said: “Both my mum, and my sister, and my aunt actually, have Crohn’s.

“My mum and my sister have it quite bad, my mum in particular. It’s something I have grown up knowing about and just knowing how difficult it can be.

“Seeing my mum and sister go through what they have been through… it was just something that was close to my heart,” she added.

The condition, which predominantly affects people internally, is often referred to as an “invisible illness”, due to many sufferers appearing to look presentable in their physical appearance despite daily discomfort.

Some of the more crippling symptoms of the disease, including frequent trips to the bathroom, can also lead those who suffer with it to feel embarrassed about the illness, which affects one in every 650 people in the UK, according to CrohnsandColitis.org.

Bela continued: “It’s interesting, because it is actually so much more common than you think when you talk about it. You realise… anytime I talk about it, anyone I have spoken to says that they know somebody who has it, or they have it.

“It is just one of those illnesses that doesn’t get spoken about as much, but it’s something I have seen first-hand. My mum has had a number of operations and two of them have been lifesaving due to her Crohn’s.”

Bela took part in Slingsby Gin’s celebrity Golf Academy to encourage more women to take to the course.

The announcement of The Spirit Of Harrogate brand’s new endeavour coincided with the reopening of outdoor sports in England.

Through the Slingsby Golf Academy, with the support of Callaway Europe, the four cadets, including Bela, Helen Skelton, Natalie Pinkham and Fleur East, worked one-on-one weekly with a partner PGA Professional, who taught them how to play golf before competing against each other in a play-off to qualify for the BMW PGA Championship Celebrity Pro-Am.

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“We’re so pleased to have these four inspirational and influential women as part of our inaugural Academy,” said Marcus Black, co-founder of Slingsby Gin. 

“The enthusiasm and competitiveness Fleur, Helen, Natalie and Bela have shown already, despite the courses being closed, has been incredible. 

“They have been practising their putting in the kitchen and swing in the back garden through lockdown.”

Although Bela did not win the play-off, she enjoyed the experience and is continuing to practice the sport.

She shared: “Playing at Wentworth was just mind-blowing, it was just beautiful. It was tough, but it was also fun.

“I’m definitely going to keep playing, I’ve played since, but I haven’t actually done 18 holes since.”

When the TV host is not on the golf course, she is busy presenting Sky Sports and spending time with her husband Ravi Sidhu.

The couple married in 2016 in a low-key ceremony and live together in north London.

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