We join TOWIE star Lydia Bright on the sizzling London Zoo firewalk for tigers

Ham & High reporter Jon Dean joins the TV star to take on 600C coals - and lives to tell the tale.

With just seconds to go before attempting my first firewalk I gazed down with some trepidation: firstly at the red hot embers, sizzling away at the temperature of molten aluminium; secondly at my poor, bare feet and delicate pinkies, surely heading for a scorching they would never forget.

A number of thoughts jostled for position in my fear-addled brain. Chief among them was regret for my bolshiness, swanning round the newsroom telling anyone who would listen that I was all set to stroll across 800C hot coals.

I could hardly back out now - even Lydia Bright from The Only Way Is Essex was about to do it - but taking my first step looked equally unlikely. On a bitterly cold night I could feel the heat emanating from the track, and see a red glow in the bowels of the fire like the eyes of a dragon.

Luckily I was able to cast my mind back to the preparatory chat all the firewalkers had been given by the firemaster Steve Stuttard.

This is a man who spent 36 years in the military - a lot of it as a special forces extreme climate survival training specialist - which involves teaching marines how to kill in the harshest jungles, deserts and frozen environments on the planet. The kind of man you listen to.

And in his hour-long talk he tried to get us to confront our fears, from dancing in front of strangers (terrifying) to getting members of the audience to smash wooden blocks with their bare hands.

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All this was designed to illustrate what you can achieve when you break down barriers.

But the most motivational thing he said was to remember why we were doing the firewalk in the first place - to help save the Sumatran tiger.

There are only 300 left in the wild, and poachers don’t think twice about shooting and skinning them for their fur.

Between us, the firewalkers had raised more than �10,000 towards a conservation centre and home for these beautiful creatures at London Zoo.

So as I stood by the hot coals, on the brink of cowardice, I imagined these strong, noble, yet vulnerable beasts and stepped forward.

And, to be honest, it was a piece of cake. I even did it twice. I think next year I will try walking across broken glass instead.