Gareth Gates says he faced ‘unbearably bad’ bullying at school due to his stammer

Gareth Gates says he faced ‘unbearably bad’ bullying at school due to his stammer

Gareth Gates became emotional while opening up about his experience growing up with a stammer on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.

The singer and musical theatre performer first gained public recognition when he competed on the first season of Pop Idol in 2002, finishing in second place after Will Young.

Gates, 39, has a speech impediment known as a stammer or stutter. With this communication disorder, a speaker may involuntarily repeat sounds or syllables, make words longer by elongating the first syllable, or have issues saying certain words.

He is currently competing in the latest series of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, which sees familiar faces undergoing SAS (Special Air Service) training under the guidance of retired special forces operators.

As part of the process, participants face occasional grillings from ex-SAS agents Jason Fox and Chris Oliver.

In scenes featured on Sunday’s episode (15 October), Gates shared some insight about his younger years with the agents, explaining that he’d been bullied for his stammer.

“For me, growing up was hard – at school, having a stammer,” he explained. Gates then proceeded to cry.

“School was just... [I was] verbally abused, physically. Lads just holding me down and shouting things,” said Gates who occasionally took breaks to wipe tears from his eyes.

“I think that’s why I’m here, to show myself that I am stronger, and that hopefully this time, I won’t break.”

After Gates left the interrogation room, Fox and Oliver discussed his stammer, with one remarking: “I didn’t realise it was that bad, it must be so frustrating.”

Gareth Gates (PA)
Gareth Gates (PA)

Gates continued his reflection on facing bullying as a child in a direct address to the camera.

“The bullying at school just became unbearably bad,” he said. “I’ve got those horrendous scars there still. I think if I could get through this course, it would just prove to myself that I am strong.

“I’ve grown, and I’ve learnt, and I can handle anything.”

Elsewhere in the episode, all remaining celebrities took part in a challenge designed to test their trustworthiness. The contestants are asked to carry out a series of tough repeated exercises without supervision from the agents.

Unbeknownst to them, secret cameras were in place to watch whether each celebrity carries out the correct number of exercises expected of them.

Ahead of the task, disgraced Tory MP Matt Hancock expressed his frustration at some people doubting whether he can be trusted.

“The thing about politics is that you are criticised in public a lot,” he says to the camera.

“I’ve had my integrity attacked on grounds that are totally unreasonable, probably more than is fair… So if I’m not trusted, I find that frustrating, because I always try to do my best.”

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.