IT MAY be too early to say if I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! Will return to Abergele but it is understood ITV bosses have booked Gwrych Castle should the show need to be held there.

The Journal has been told that ITV have secured the 200-year-folly and its grounds for a second year in case the site is needed for the popular show.

ITV would not confirm the agreement but there has already been much speculation in the national press that a return to North Wales is being considered.

The show drew in 11.2 million viewers across the series (12.1m viewers watched the final) and a fundraiser - to improve facilities at Gwrych Castle - has received a major boost.

Rhyl Journal: The set remains in place. The castle trust is currently hosting a fundraiser for fans to win an exclusive behind the scenes tour. Picture: ITVThe set remains in place. The castle trust is currently hosting a fundraiser for fans to win an exclusive behind the scenes tour. Picture: ITV

Speaking on behalf of the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, Jamie Bolton said: "Fundraising has been crucial for Gwrych Castle. As the estate is privately owned, we don’t receive public funding meaning we usually rely on ticket sales and events. So the arrival of I’m A Celebrity has helped significantly and brought a boost to the area as a whole.

"Our GoFundMe Page is currently on £14,000 and between this latest raffle, and the five we run in December, we have raised over £8,000 so far.

"We have an online shop which has helped with funding whilst we are closed to the public.

"Items include annual passes from £10, hoodies, t-shirts, branded mugs, bags and a few greeting cards."

Fans were left excited earlier this month when the trust revealed the I'm A Celeb set up was still in place.

The castle's latest raffle is the chance to win an exclusive 'behind the scenes' tour for up to five people.

Jamie said: "The response to this has been great. The raffle raised £1,000 within 24-hours showing a high demand from the public to see the key locations from I’m A Celebrity."

Cllr Alan Hunter, mayor of Abergele, said the town and Gwyrch Castle are "firmly on the world stage".

Rhyl Journal: Ant and Dec at Gwrych Castle. Picture: Instagram / antanddecAnt and Dec at Gwrych Castle. Picture: Instagram / antanddec

"So many people are excited to see the castle restored to its magnificent former glory," he added.

"Myself as mayor and the town council recognise the many benefits the castle bring to the local economy, including the sea front and Pensarn promenade where the best views of the castle can be had.

"We have a real asset and we all need to support the progress of restoration so the whole area of North Wales can reap the benefits of the additional tourism."

Cllr Hunter and his wife Cheryl, the mayoress, paid a visit to the site earlier this month as part of a tour.

The councillor first set foot in Gwrych Castle in 1963 when he was aged just five during a family holiday.

"For the first time in years we got to go inside the building and walk down the main staircase," he said.

"It was wonderful to be able to walk around and see the reconstruction work carried out to make the building safe for the show and for the future tours when the castle reopens to the public.

"I'd returned several times to visit but when we moved to Abergele in 1992, the castle was already closed to the public and in just a few years was reduced to a badly damaged shell.

"To go back in and see what has been done so far and to listen to Dr Mark Baker's plans was really exciting. I could almost picture how it was, and how it will be.

"It almost felt like a castle fairytale - that a five-year-old, standing on the courtyard in 1963, was standing in the same spot in 2021 as the mayor of the town he visited on holiday."

Rhyl Journal: Mark Baker, Chairperson for Gwyrch Castle Trust - DJW221216.Mark Baker, Chairperson for Gwyrch Castle Trust - DJW221216.

Cllr Hunter said the castle trust, as well as the community, Abergele Town Council and Conwy County Borough Council, would welcome ITV back with open arms if I'm A Celeb was to return.

He said: "From the messages I received from ITV, they were overwhelmed by the welcome they received from our businesses and communities. Despite [Covid] restrictions, the shops and businesses decorated their windows. Even a building site on the corner of Sea Road had banners up.

"We are expecting a real influx of visitors to Abergele to see the castle and do the tour as soon as it’s safe to do so. This will be a massive chance for our local businesses to embrace the opportunity to recover from a year of lockdowns. It would also mean more work for local trades people who were employed by ITV in the construction and running of the show.

"The figure of £1,000,000 in to the local economy has been estimated.

"It would be fantastic to have that sort of contribution back again."

Rhyl Journal: Gwrych CastleGwrych Castle

Talking about how much of an asset the castle is to the community, and how involved the town council is with Gwrych Castle, cllr Hunter responded: "It was a joined up effort to make sure the show was a success and that as many benefits as possible could be realised.

"The support from Abergele Town Council, various departments at Conwy council, the community and the castle trust cannot be underestimated.

"The massive raising of the profile for one of the most iconic buildings in Wales now has a wider appeal throughout the UK and worldwide.

"Parts of the I'm A Celeb set that can remain will truly enhance the visitor experience and the mayoress and I look forward to visiting again when Gwrych Castle is open to the public.

"There will be a warm Abergele welcome for everyone, including Ant and Dec and the next collection of celebrities, if ITV decide to return to our fabulous castle and town."