A TAUNTON woman who turned her life around after a decade of domestic abuse has tackled one of the world's toughest physical and mental challenges.

Nicola McGrath signed up to an arduous selection training course being broadcast on Channel 4's SAS: Who Dares Wins.

Mother-of-three Nicola, 40, was among 25 recruits pushed to their limit while shut off from the rest of the world on the Isle of Skye.

She said: "It was brutal and aimed at seeing if you're tough enough.

"We were in the water a lot for cold shock, having to swim to shore, jumping out of helicopters and climbing up boats.

"We got about two hours sleep a night. They'd wake you up in the middle of the night to get you out for a beasting - a couple of hours of physical activity."

In the first of six episodes aired on Sunday, Nicola and the other contestants were forced to lift 40kg barrels over their heads.

"It was constant," she said. "They show just a snippet on TV.

"We only had two changes of clothing, so we were constantly having to dry our kit quickly.

"We couldn't speak to our family.

"We had to use open toilets without doors, there were no showers, we slept in a barn where the door didn't close."

Nicola, a civil servant, said she was motivated to go on the show to make her children and her father proud - he was in the Royal Marines and worked alongside the SAS.

She added: "When I finished, I said I'd never do that again, but after a few days you think what you've achieved and wish you could do it all over again."

Nicola's experience on the show showed her how far she has come since suffering domestic violence from partners when she was aged between 15 and 25.

She was head-butted, pushed down the stairs, had car doors slammed on her legs and was dragged along a carpet face down.

"When you're going through that you keep quiet," said Nicola. "You're embarrassed and you don't think people will believe you."

She decided it had to stop after one man put her in hospital after attacking her when she was six months pregnant.

"I did the show to prove to myself and others how I've changed from this weak, vulnerable woman," said Nicola.

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She started her liberating journey by running, gradually progressing to marathons and climbing to the base camp of Mount Everest.

She trained for the TV series with a gruelling Cross Fit programme at the Box Reebox gym in Wellington Contestants who couldn't hack it on the Isle of Skye had to quit, while others were thrown out if they didn't cut it - you'll have to watch to see how Nicola got on.

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"My family have been amazing - Chris and my children Callum (19), Joshua (14) and Talia (nine)," said Nicola.