A WINCHESTER actor has been announced as the latest ambassador for a UK learning disability charity.

Tommy Jessop, aged 36, hit the headlines last year playing Terry Boyle in the hit show Line of Duty, and now Mencap has announced him as its newest ambassador.

He was the first actor with Down’s syndrome to star in a prime-time BBC drama, playing Ben in Mark Haddon’s BAFTA nominated Coming Down the Mountain, following this with guest lead roles in Casualty, Holby City and other TV roles and radio plays for BBC Radio 4.

Tommy is the winner of various Best Actor awards for his short films and also the first professional actor with Down’s syndrome to tour theatres as Hamlet and the first to become a full voting member of BAFTA.

In July 2021, he received an honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Winchester for his services to the entertainment industry.

Tommy plans to use his new position as Mencap ambassador to get rid of the common perception that people with a learning disability cannot do certain things.

Speaking of his new role, Tommy said: “People with a learning disability should be able to do anything we want, for example getting married or being a role model for people to look up to.

"I am proud and honoured to be a Mencap ambassador. I hope through this role I can help Mencap keep doing what they do best to carry on their really hard work in the future.”

Edel Harris, Mencap chief executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome Tommy Jessop as our ambassador. Like the rest of the nation, I was gripped by the last season of Line of Duty and was delighted to see someone who has Down’s syndrome on such a popular and prime time TV show. It’s incredibly important because representation really does matter and I’m thrilled he’s joined the Mencap family.

“Having Tommy on board as an ambassador is a great way to de-stigmatise and challenge misconceptions about people who have Down’s syndrome and/or who have a learning disability. He will also help us increase the visibility of people with a learning disability across the media and society to help transform attitudes. Our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to live a happy and healthy life if you have a learning disability and I look forward to working alongside Tommy to make this vision a reality."

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Kimberley Barber