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Alexandra Burke: I'm taking part in 80km charity hike in memory of my aunt and to raise cash for Breast Cancer Care
Source: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk, John Dingwall
X FACTOR winner Alexandra Burke has revealed the hidden heartache that is driving her to join an 80km charity hike through South America.
Alexandra, who heads to Scotland this weekend for a pop-packed In: Demand Live show at Glasgow's SECC, jumped at the chance to join Radio 1 DJ Fearne Cotton and TV presenters Holly Willoughby and Denise Van Outen on the gruelling seven-day trip to Peru to raise cash for Breast Cancer Care.
The trek in September will be filmed for a two-part ITV2 documentary, and Alexandra admits the charity is close to her heart after losing her aunt Jean to breast cancer.
In an exclusive and emotional interview with The Razz, she revealed: "My auntie recently passed away because of breast cancer so it is a charity that means a lot to me and I am doing it for a great cause.
"She was in her 60s when she died. If it is going to help raise money for cancer care, that is what matters.
"For any cancer out there, there are ways to help people find a cure. That's what we have to do."
Alexandra has been in training for weeks ahead of the demanding challenge which will take her and the rest of the team through the Andes mountain range and parts of the Amazon rainforest in South America.
The singer will also follow the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, passing many ancient ruins in Peru. The group will average around eight miles a day over rocky mountainous terrain.
She is set to endure altitude and mountain sickness, which can cause nausea, nose bleeds and headaches.
"I'm having to train by carrying a backpack that weighs 20lbs when I am in the gym," Alexandra said.
"I do that every day and that's quite hard in itself.
"Thankfully, it's restricted to in the gym because if you saw me with it out and about it wouldn't be a pretty sight. We are walking at altitude which is going to be hard as well."
The tough regime means Alexandra is going to be in great shape for her In:Demand Live appearance tomorrow afternoon, which will see her reunite with former X Factor contestants JLS and Diana Vickers.
The line-up for the sold-out show also includes chart-topping acts Basshunter, Tinchy Stryder and McFly as well as The Saturdays, The Script, The Hoosiers, Alesha Dixon and Professor Green.
Completing the bill are Example, Eliza Doolittle, Alex Gardner, The Wanted, Fugative, Carrie Mac and Beatbullyz.
"I can't wait to come to In:Demand Live," Alexandra said.
"We have been talking about doing it for months now. I am over the moon and can't wait to get up there and do my thing.
"Also, I get to reunite with everyone which is awesome.
"I don't see everyone regularly but I do keep in touch by texting and emailing. I am really close to the JLS boys, especially Aston."
JLS star Oritse agrees that In:Demand Live will be just one big pop party, although he confesses his social networking addiction is keeping him busy around the clock.
He said: "Alexandra is a good friend. We speak on BlackBerry messenger. She is doing great things. We are a good support for each other. She is like my sister.
"Since I got a BlackBerry, I've gone crazy. Social networking is important.
"I want to talk to my fans every day and tell them how much I love them and without social networking I wouldn't be able to do that."
He loves hi-tech gadgets and revealed: "I have four iPods - an iTouch, a 160GB iPod and two iPod nanos."
His group can't wait for their Scots fans to hear their new material.
Oritse said: "It's been incredible. We've been writing the second album in America and England. America was amazing. It was a boyhood dream to go there.
"We worked with producers we wouldn't have access to in England. We have some amazing songs and are recording a single we have written which is going to take us to the next level."
The boyband star insists JLS can stay together and admits they are inspired by Take That's longevity.
"I want to be doing this for the rest of my life," Oritse said.
"I can't see myself doing anything other than JLS. I love these people."
Despite rumours, Alexandra insists it is highly unlikely she will step into Cheryl Tweedy's shoes for the upcoming X Factor series.
Cheryl, 27, may have to step down from her judging role while she recovers from malaria.
"I would love to be involved but nothing is confirmed with that," Alexandra said. "I don't think I will be. I'm doing a lot of promotion in Europe, Australia and Asia."
And she had some choice words for recent critics of the TV talent show, including Sting, Kasabian and Tony Bennett.
"What I love about the X Factor is that it has given people like myself opportunities," she said. "I know I'm not the type of person who could walk into a record label and be automatically signed.
"X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and America's Got Talent don't judge you on your appearance. They judge you purely on your talent and that's what I respect about those shows.
"If people want to slag it off then fair enough. I will stand by it all the way because it is a fantastic programme.
"People think you don't work hard on these shows but you really do and to understand you have to go through it."
Jls were certainly put through the mill on X Factor, with Aston Merryweather in tears after hitting bum notes.
Oritse says the high drama helped bring them together in their determination to make their dreams of stardom come true.
He said: "X Factor brought us closer because of everything we had to go through."
Aston added: "At the start of X Factor, we were dedicated and we thought it would be fun because we love singing. Mid-series, I broke down because I thought we were going to go out.
"It was hard. We gave blood, sweat and tears. It's paying off for us now. We are never going to take anything for granted because this could end tomorrow.
"We are going to keep having fun and working hard."