AFTER living for a year as a castaway on a windswept Scottish island a night in Radcliffe was the height of luxury for Dez Monks.

Dez, a former pupil of Stand Grammar School, will be familiar to millions of viewers who followed the BBC's reality TV show, Castaway.

He grew up in Bull Hill Crescent, Radcliffe, and returned to the family home last Thursday (Jan 18) to be reunited with his father Dennis and stepmother, Frances.

"It was very emotional. The last time I saw them was Boxing Day 1999," said Dez (37).

He and his partner Liz (31) have been cycling home to London from Taransay to raise money for charity.

"We are hoping to encourage people to make donations to Children In Need and Macmillan Nurses," explained Dez during his stopover in Radcliffe.

He and Liz were two of only five castaways who never left the island during the year-long stay. "It was Liz who first saw the advert for the show. It was just the sort of madcap caper that appeals to us so we decided to give it a go. We were also interested in the fact that it was a big eco-project and wanted to be involved in something so ground-breaking."

Dez added: "Initially I was seen as argumentative but I came into my own and if it wasn't for me and one of the other castaways I doubt the project would have worked."

The greatest hardship for him was being away from friends and the thing he missed most was a bath.

"We had showers but it wasn't the same. The first thing I treated myself to when we left Taransay was a good bath."

Although he gets recognised by the public, Dez said his new-found celebrity is not really a problem and he has no desire to pursue a showbiz life.

He previously worked as an international sales manager and Liz was a management consultant.

"On TV we were portrayed as the London career couple but while Liz is going back to her job I've decided to become a house-husband and renovate a house in the country," said Dez.

The only problem is where to put the souvenir of their time on Taransay.

"I got one of the pods, but I haven't a clue what to do with it," he laughed.