The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades reveals he has mentored Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock ‘for years’

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The Repair Shop star Jay Blades has revealed a surprise celebrity friendship with Little Mix's Leigh-Anne Pinnock, who he has mentored for years and still speaks to "every day".

Jay, 51, also said they had been working on a secret project together as he spoke to Lorraine on Thursday morning.

Furniture restorer and TV presenter Jay was speaking about his experiences of racism and the young people he had mentored to try to help them through similar circumstances.

He said: "Leigh-Anne from Little Mix is one of the young people I've mentored along the way and I'm still in contact with her every day.

"For me, it's all about giving back because of the experience that I've had, rather than walking around with a chip on my shoulder and feeling bitter about life, I think I have to show young people that if I can get through things then you can overcome things as well."

Jay, who said he has done around 20 years of charity work and mentoring, explained his own early experiences of racism: "They did make my life hell, the first time I experienced racism was when I went to secondary school.

"I had a rude awakening that there were people who didn't like me because of the colour of my skin and it spiralled out of control."

Little Mix star Leigh-Anne, who has recently announced her first pregnancy, will present a BBC One documentary tonight, Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop & Power, which looks at racism in the music industry.

Talking about how proud he was of her, Jay said: "I often say this to people – I'm like a pebble, you throw that pebble into a pond and it throws those ripples out. Those ripples sometimes go too short and come back to the original source.

"So when you mentor and you give back to people without looking to receive, sometimes it comes back and Leigh-Anne is one of those young people that I've mentored along the way, I've done a load.

"When you get them coming back and then giving out to people and saying this is what I've been through, this is what you should be doing, we need to make a change, it is just absolutely beautiful."

Teasing some big news, he added: "She is doing brilliant and there's something that we'll probably announce, I don't know when, but we're working together on something. I just love it, I love giving back."

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