I'm A Celeb's Amy Willerton Talks Movingly About Her Disabled Brother

14/08/2014 16:57 | Updated 20 May 2015

Amy Willerton

'I'm A Celebrity' star Amy Willerton has spoken movingly about her severely mentally disabled teenage brother – who she says is the motivation behind her success.

She said: "My driving ambition is to look after Ross for the rest of my life.

"I know my parents worry about what will happen to him after they're gone, but I will take care of him whatever happens.

"Ultimately, I'd love to be able to afford to pay for a full-time carer so he can live back at home with us. That's why I want to do well."

In an interview to promote the charity that looks after the 19-year-old, Amy added: "Because of Ross, I've never worried about looking cool or doing the same things as others my age.

"He's taught me to make the most of every opportunity because he doesn't have that option."

Former Miss Universe Amy, 21, revealed how close she and her parents came to having Ross taken into care.

He was born with a condition known as mosaicism. One third of his cells have an extra chromosome, which has left him with the lifelong mental capability of a one-year-old.

He also suffers from severe autism, which means he is obsessed with routine and finds social interaction virtually impossible. He can walk but he cannot talk and needs help with everything from tying his shoelaces to using the bathroom.

He communicates with his family using Makaton – a language programme consisting of signs and symbols – and requires constant reassurance to keep him calm.

When caring for him full-time at home became too much for his parents, Sarah and Bruce, the opportunity arose to give him the chance to flourish with 24-hour attention in a residential special needs school.

But the couple endured a lengthy fight with social services. Social workers took the view that, by asking for help, the family were admitting they no longer wished to look after Ross themselves.

In a letter which horrified the Willertons, it was even suggested that he be placed in foster care – rather than attending a special school – if they could no longer cope with him.

But while they wanted professional help, and for Ross to be in the best possible environment, they did not want another family to take over 'parenting' him.

Amy said: "It feels like social services tried to rob me of my brother, and of his childhood in the heart of his family who loved him very much.

"They suggested taking him away – but taking a child away from a parent is wrong. We would never give up on my brother but we should have had more help.

"I've always known how badly Mum would love to have changed Ross's situation, and how hard it is for her to know that she can't. But then, on top of that, she had to go through so much pain trying to get him the care he needs.

"Ross is lucky he had my parents to battle for him – what about the families who can't, or don't know how?

"We believe there should be much more support available for families caring for a disabled child. We need to look at the care system from an individual's point of view, not just as another name on a list."

Ross was finally accepted into the school and after flourishing there, he now lives at a local residential care home in Bristol run by the Milestones Trust charity.

Amy said: "He has his own little flat and two carers with him at all times, who really love him, so we're happy. He comes home at weekends and we can see that he's as content as he can be."

She added: "I would never change anything about Ross because he's an innocent, sweet soul who's taught us so much about being patient and kind and accepting of people.

"All I'd change is the amount of support available for carers like my parents because there are so many families like ours who work so hard and deserve so much more help."

For more information about the charity helping Ross, visit


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