The first winner of Big Brother is supporting local charity Les Amis as it celebrates 40 years of empowering Islanders with learning difficulties.
Craig Phillips, who is a patron of the UK Down's Syndrome Association, is coming to Jersey on Tuesday 17 March for Down's Syndrome Awareness Week and to launch Les Amis 40th anniversary celebrations.
The charity, which opened at Five Oaks in 1975, provides essential services to meet the needs of those with learning disabilities – including Down's Syndrome and autism - and/or associated conditions.
Originally known as Maison Variety, it now supports 80 Islanders in 30 houses and flats around the Island so they can live independent normal lives as part of the Island community. Les Amis also operates respite care for families and outreach services.
The Managing Director of Les Amis, Shaun Findlay, said: 'We are delighted that Craig is coming to launch our very special year and to help us highlight the vital work we do empowering Islanders with learning difficulties to live normal lives.
'Society's attitude towards people with learning difficulties has been radically transformed over the past 40 years from living separately in institutions to leading as normal life as possible – holding down jobs and living independently in ordinary flats and houses - supported by us, as equal members of our community.
'We hope Craig's support and the events of this year will further our long-term goal of ensuring that Islanders with learning difficulties reach their full potential in Island life.'
Mr Phillips won the first series of Big Brother in 2000. Since then he has forged a successful career as a DIY expert and television presenter. He handed over his £70,000 prize money to a fund to raise £250,000 for a heart and lung transport operation for his childhood friend, Joanne Harris who has Down's Syndrome.
Sadly, Miss Harris, who Mr Phillips called 'my special little lady', was diagnosed as not suitable for a transplant. She died in 2008.
In addition to his patronage of the Down's Syndrome Association in the UK, he works closely with a number of other charities and has raised funds by running marathons and taking part in sports events for charitable causes.
He will spend his time in Jersey at a public open day at the charity's respite home, Mourant Lodge, in Trinity and visiting residents at some of the 30 houses and flats operated by Les Amis.
Following on from Down's Awareness Week, Les Amis is celebrating its 40 anniversary with a number of events including:
• Les Amis Mastercook at Highlands College Academy of Food and Culinary Arts with Michelin Star chef Mark Jordan and Highlands Head of Catering Eileen-Buike Kelly,
• Performance at Jersey Arts Centre by the award-winning Blue Apple Theatre Company of Much Ado About Nothing, 18 May. All the actors have learning difficulties
• Downton Charity Ball at Samarès Manor on Saturday 18 July with champagne in the rose garden, entertainment and a fundraising auction and raffle
• Sponsored walk
• Christmas Carol service