The cream of Blackpool

Blackpool Pleasure Beach's Wallace and Gromit queued up to get an ice cream from Melanie Sykes
Blackpool Pleasure Beach's Wallace and Gromit queued up to get an ice cream from Melanie Sykes
Have your say

It is not the first time former model and TV presenter Melanie Sykes has posed in an ice cream van – but this time it was for a very different reason.

The scenes on Blackpool’s Central Pier – reminiscent of that mid-90s Boddingtons advert that launched Mel’s career as she served up refreshing treats – were to raise awareness about autism.

The visit to Blackpool was part of her UK tour in support of the International Pre-Autistic Network – IPAN.

With her friend, Vikki Flynn, the celebrity has been travelling from John O’Groats to Land’s End, dishing out ice creams as they go.

Although it was not exactly ice cream weather, Mel was upbeat about spending the morning by the seaside.

She is keen to raise awareness of autism after her son Valentino was diagnosed with the condition when he was just two years old.

She said: “I’m raising money so families can go through the same thing my son did.”

She said her son was lucky to get the quality of care he did – and she wants to make others do not miss out.

And she added that she hopes by raising awareness of the condition she can make sure more people get the care they need.

She said: “There are a lot of children with it but there are still a lot that go undiagnosed for ages as well.

“If you can see it early, treatments can be more effective.”

She spent Thursday travelling through Scotland and was this weekend working her way south, with the Trafford Centre in Manchester also on her itinerary.

She said she was delighted by the response so far.

“I think everybody thinks it is a good idea,” she added.

IPNA is an organisation that works to promote early diagnosis and intervention in the case of infants displaying the early warning signs of autism. Mel’s visit to the seaside brought some more famous faces to Central Pier, including Wallace and Gromit and Tania Alboni, who appears as Amy Winehouse in Central Pier’s Stars in Concert show.