CELEBRITY chef Simon Rimmer helped launch Francis House's 'Big BBQ' fundraising campaign.

The children’s hospice, which helps children from across Greater Manchester, is asking people to invite their friends around for a BBQ throughout August, in exchange for a donation to the charity.

Rimmer, who co-presents Channel 4’s ‘Sunday Brunch’ programme, was joined by young people and care staff from the hospice to launch the Big BBQ campaign and cooked some tasty treats to get the fundraiser underway.

The chef, who also owns Earle restaurant in Hale, has held several fundraising events for Francis House.

He said: “A lot of people have no idea that Francis House exists, so if we get the chance as a local business to help raise a bit of money but equally to raise awareness of this tremendous set-up then that’s a bonus.

“People need to get their barbecues out, get their mates round, have some fun but charge them for a burger and donate the money to Francis House.

“As a parent myself I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for the families here, so let’s do what we can to enable Francis House to exist.”

The hospice, which aims to provide a fun and relaxing environment for children and young people with life-limiting conditions to spend valuable time with their families, opened a new seven-bedroom extension earlier this year.

Jaclyn Ollerenshaw from Davyhulme, whose three-year-old daughter Willow has congenital muscular dystrophy, said the support provided by Francis House has been life-changing for the whole family.

Jaclyn said: “It can be a lonely world once you get a diagnosis and you’re constantly on the go.

"To come here and meet other parents and know that everyone is trained takes the pressure off and gives us all a chance to relax.

“It’s great for Willow but it’s also been a massive help for Willow’s brother Nick.

"He’s seven now and just starting to realise that family life isn’t the same for everyone but here he gets to mix with other siblings living in similar situations which is great.”

A BIG BBQ fundraising pack including recipe ideas and tips on how to raise funds is available at francishouse.org.uk/bigbbq or by calling Lucy on 0161 443 2200