Lisa Robins 01895 540187 lisa.robins@annakennedyonline.com

Congratulations to the Autism Hero Awards finalists – please take a look at each of our winners below!

Outstanding Achievement Award

Winner: Siarlot Hall – Teacher in an ASD unit in Bridgend
Siarlot has been a lifeline for the family and many other families over the past 20 years. Her commitment to improving lives through education at the unit and within the community is simply remarkable.

People’s Hero Award

Winner: Charlie Matthews
Charlie is a 13-year-old girl with Autism and ADHD and is an incredible young woman. As a young child Charlie was dangerously underweight and emotionally disconnected. Charlie has steadily become such a strength and inspiration for young women of today. Charlie is constantly fundraising and supporting other young disabled children all over the world. She appeared on ‘This Morning’ campaigning for the understanding of Autism.

Parent/Carer Award

Winner: Amanda West
In Beau’s words (Amanda’s son)… I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and mummy has had to deal with every day since. My brother Eden is 22 and is autistic, my brother Brogan is 20 and has aspergers, my sister Jordan has aspergers, my brother Rafen is really annoying and has ADHD, I also have 2 sisters Chay and Harris. I have autistic traits and my mum looks after all of us! We all love singing and dancing and mummy has spent her whole life making sure we can do this; she tells us ‘We can do anything’!!!!

Sibling of the Year Award

Winner: April Butterworth
April is a very dedicated member of staff and has a passion for supporting people with Autism, particularly her brother. She bravely presented to a parent group to enhance their understanding and help them to see things from the perspective of the sibling of a child with autism.

Outstanding Achievement Award in Sport

Winner: Sandro Ballesteros
Throughout Sandro’s karting journey there have been tough times, trying to fit in with normal day to day activities in life battling with learning difficulties. Sandro has overcome many of his fears and now comes to team karting with new found confidence. Lots of Sandro’s friends also have autism and Sandro helps them with their fears and confidence issues.

Personal Achievement Award

Winner: Sam Storey
Sam has a diagnosis of Aspergers, life became difficult during sixth form, the social rules changed with parties, larger groups, relationships and pressure from the exams. Sam suffered with severe depression and was hospitalized.Sam is now a youth activist for young minds and writing their blog and speaking at the House of Parliament about the impact of cyber bullying.

Lifetime Award

Winner: Uta Frith
Professor Uta Frith is an Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience since 2006. Uta has been a visiting professor at the university of Aarhus at the Interacting Mind Centre. Uta is still as fascinated with autism and dyslexia as ever, she really enjoyed making BBC2 Horizon programme ‘Living with Autism’ and she also presented another BBC2 Horizon programme in OCD ‘A Monster in the Mind’.

Uma stated: ‘I am bowled over to find I am one of the Anna Kennedy Online’s Hero’s Winner’s

Outstanding Community Award

Winner: Donna Swan
Donna deserves an award for all her hard work, founder for Calmer Therapy, a community group that helps children diagnosed with autism and their families. Having two children on the autism spectrum and works three jobs but still manages to volunteer her time to run the group and organises clubs, activities and trips. Many families have experienced a trip with their child for the first time. Donna is an amazing woman and a massive lifeline to families in Northumberland.

Leading Business Award

Winner: Berkeley Homes
Berkeley Homes has had a relationship with Buckinghamshire County Council since 2014. It involves autistic individuals being offered paid 8 week placements at the company’s finance department. Everyone who has been on the programme has been offered permanent employment afterwards. Before working with Berkeley, Simon felt useless, he was offered a job and stayed for a year, the Berkeley team showed him great patience. Simon has since been offered a permanent job at Gorkana and is now a happier and more confident person.

Online Social Network Award

Winner: Gemious Ltd
The Chewigem Facebook page is an amazing online resource for many families and professionals with over 18,000 people worldwide. It is a large community that help each other with advice and experiences. There have been lots of friendships formed, knowledge, ideas, support and resources shared. With a mix of parents, autistic teenagers, adults, educators and health care professionals it is a great place to find information and support. In such a short space of time it has become a truly successful online social network.

Top Journalism Award

Winner: Chris Bonnello
The blog and articles Chris writes www.autisticnotweird.com are extremely helpful to anyone that wishes to know more about ASD. He writes with honesty and offers an insight on what it is like to live with Aspergers. His work is inspirational, educational and extremely useful and offers advice and support to anyone growing up on the spectrum, their families, teachers and gives talks to various support groups.

Healthcare Professional Award

Winner: Sally Glossop
Sally has dedicated her entire career to supporting and championing young people with autism. She is like today’s version of Mary Poppins flying into the team supporting schools and students who face challenges because of their autism. Her knowledge, practical approach and humour are second to none. Sally supports hundreds of parents, carers and young people without showing signs of stress. She makes everyone feel special and listened to. Sally needs to be recognised for her positive work and contribution to improving the lives of families living with Autism.

Special Recognition: Jaco Mylan

Jaco Mylan son of Richard Mylan is 12 years on the autism spectrum. When Richard diagnosed Richard was thrown into personal turmoil. He had to re-think his hopes and dreams for his son when he was just four years old. Richard and Jaco: Life With Autism was an intimate documentary that was aired on BBC1 nationally in May 2017 and showed the transition as Jaco moved from primary to secondary school. It tells a personal story of life for autistic children and their families. Jaco struggles with noise and often wears protective headphones. He likes wind farms, rugby and washing machines – and one of the things he loves the most is the order and routine of Cardiff Market, where he’s a regular visitor at closing time. This raised autism awareness nationally deserves a special recognition in how amazing this young man is and the positive impact he has made.