The Autism Hero Awards - Winners 2021Please see the extraordinary winners' details below
Autism Hero Awards 2021 winners
Congratulations to the Autism Hero Awards winners 2021, our winners are detailed below, it was so inspiring each of their lived-in experiences led them to be outstanding hero’s.
Lifetime Achiever Award
Sponsors: Living Autism
Winner Debbie Marshall
Since 2009, Debbie has not stopped giving her endless time to the Autism community, helping many autistic individuals and families in Lincolnshire. She has given so much to other organisations, support groups, the council, and HNS without asking for any help back.
Debbie has worked with organisations Linkage, Lincoln college, Strut in the community, RAF Methringham, Specsavers and a local prison. Debbie has worked over the last year with Tesco raising awareness, the continued work she does around awareness is so important to her: changing people’s opinions, attitudes and understanding with regards to Autism.
In the summer of 2015 Debbie was thrilled to be chosen to carry the flag at the Magna Carter party at Lincoln Castle. She was chosen by Lincolnshire Co-operative because of the work she did in the community, the last 9 years she has been delivering Autism training to new police recruits.
Sibling of the Year Award
Winner – Emily Maxfield
Emily is 20 years older than her brother Kristian who has Autism and struggles daily with his social skills and behaviour. Emily has been there for him since Day 1, fighting his corner and encouraging him with the many challenges he has faced.
Emily’s mum has had many health problems through the years resulting in many hospitals stays and more recently a Breast Cancer diagnosis. Emily on each occasion has taken care of her mum and been the surrogate mum to Kristian, she has done this alongside her own family, work, and charity work commitments.
Emily has been involved in every aspect of Kristian’s life from diagnosis to school choices, filling in forms to EHC planning and dealing with health care and education professionals on his behalf.
Emily helped Kristian raise over £1000 for the children’s air ambulance who she volunteers for which really boosted his confidence and lead him to being nominated for an award by the air ambulance service. We are very proud of Emily; she is the best daughter and sister anyone could ask for.
Creative Arts and Media Award
Sponsors: Sara Eden productions
Winner – Samantha Grierson
Sam is a successful businesswoman, she is Gay, a Wife, a mom, and Autistic, more recently diagnosed with ADHD. Sam is also now recognised and successful play write, her latest published work featured Miriam Margoyles playing the main character with Autism. Sam is a fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride woman, she came out at 16 years old and has campaigned for gay rights ever since. When diagnosed with Autism in 2019, Sam not only wanted to raise awareness but to do it through humour, diversity, and entertainment.
Sam has published 4 audio plays and a screenplay. Sam is both championing and raising awareness of later life adult autism and ADHD and has received grateful responses from readers and listeners who have struggled with late diagnoses themselves. Sam has received praise from the Autistic broadcasters on The Autism Show, The Squarepeg podcast and BBC Wales Art show.
Outstanding Education Award
Sponsors: Recite Me
Winner Somerset School
The school has gone from strength to strength in upskilling themselves to make sure they are the most inclusive they can be for their ASD students.
They are a specialist unit for SMEH and Autism, their staff go above and beyond to ensure the students leave with life skills and coping mechanisms to make their independent lives and careers more manageable with the challenges they face daily.
The staff work amazingly as a team, they have a thrive and pace intervention programme that ensures students lead their education and relationships at school which helps them relax and feeling like the are in a safe place. Hollie Hutchings truly believes Somerset School go above and beyond for their students and values.
Leading Business Award
Sponsors: Talem Law
Winner Teach Rex
Teach Rex believes every child deserves spectacular opportunities and memorable experiences. This is at the core of everything they do. Teach Rex uses current Ofsted guidelines. The workshops are designed for all children of all abilities and are differentiated from Nursery to Year 6., providing children with a range of opportunities. Teach Rex provides creative learning workshops with the power to ignite young minds and imaginations.
Each session transports children to a world of dinosaurs and dragons enabling pupils to experience something truly magical. As a business and experience of teaching primary they understand children with ASD, little things can be massive victories and they want to celebrate this. They want their shows to be a place that families can be comfortable in a non-judgmental environment with staff that not only understand but are incredibly experienced.
Online Social Network Award
Sponsors: Born Anxious
Winner Kent Autistic Trust
Kent Autistic Trust’s free family support service helps over five thousand autistic individuals, families, parents, and carers in Kent each year with advice, support, and help to become part of an online community network. They have women’s groups and social skills groups which aim to provide support for each other through difficult times, build friendships and have the opportunity to discuss the individual challenges they face.
They provide training and workshops plus behaviour strategies to organisations, professionals, schools, and groups. Since Covid struck they have seen a 25% increase in the need for support, the service is free and their two family support offices continue to work to full capacity, still doing their jobs with passion, enthusiasm and putting in 150% to help those who need it.
Outstanding Community Award
Winner: Sutton EHCP Crisis
Sutton EHCP Crisis Campaign Group was founded by Hayley Harding and led alongside Michelle Hewson, Dr Alan Courtney, Mark Gill and Daniela Friend. The group was formed after they realised that it was a common problem in Sutton that parents were not getting access to the support that their children needed. These five individuals have all worked tirelessly to publicly highlight the failings of Sutton Council to provide lawful EHC Needs, Assessments and Plans.
They have stood up to local councillors by presenting petitions and asking questions at public meetings plus creating an online community that now has over 300 members to provide support and knowledge for families who have been let down.
As a result of their campaign persistence the following achievements have been made; The number of appeal applications to the SEND tribunal in Sutton increased by 50% in 2019, Their campaign has been mentioned at PMQs last year by MP Paul Scully and during the SEND debate this year by MP Elliot Colburn… and many more.
Special Recognition Award
Sponsors: Anna Kennedy Online
Winner: Bryan Chandler
Bryan Chandler has been passionately advocating for Autism and Asperger’s now for over a decade.
Bryan was diagnosed at 23 years old, and he describes himself as helping people to reach their full potential.
Bryan sadly lost his mum earlier this year and has support from his uncle and friends. He is always giving advice to people with ASC even though he has been struggling this year with his own grief. Bryan’s quote is We are just like you with just a few extra quirks!
Young Person of the Year Award
Winner Bobby Trundley
22 Year old Bobby is excelling in the most incredible way and becoming a beacon of inspiration for anyone on the Autism Spectrum. Bobby was nonverbal until he was 4 years old and faced severe social and developmental challenges. A chance invitation to a karting birthday party age 10 changed his life and lit a fire in Bobby that has led him to becoming the most successful autistic racing driver in the world.
Bobby had become 5 x karting champion before joining all disabled Team BRIT in 2019. He is Team BRIT’s fastest driver and has been named within the pair that will step up to British GT in 2022. Alongside his racing Bobby is an ambassador for Autism Awareness, he shares his story to help and inspire others to believe that anything is possible.
Peoples Autism Hero Award
Sponsors: IEP Financial
Winner: Jane Green
Jane has been nominated by Mel Davis for having Autism and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome but deciding to help others. Jane has led the national social model of education in the Southeast and nationally with the Department of Education. Jane’s illness increased and she was forced to retire but that didn’t stop Jane. She went on to Volunteer for a national charity joining up with other isolated ill people, she developed her idea to do more active support which was needed for people dealing with EDS and HDS using positive therapies.
Jane founded and Chair SEDS Sussex Ehlers Danlos and Hypermobility Support which is an active winning community group that members can rely on, she also volunteers her skills as a carer Trustee for a local carer’s charity. Jane is involved in the new Ehlers Danlos education national tool kit with the main charities and now sits on the Autism Skills for Care as an individual with Autism.
Personal Achievement Award
Sponsors: Samantha Lee Howe
Winner Grace Parr
Grace is 16 years old, she has Autism, she is highly academic but became increasingly unable to access her education due to poor mental health, anxiety and depression. Grace has had several hospital admissions during the last year due to being in a bad way and not seeing her life as worth living. More recently Grace has clawed her way back from the dark places she was in and is determined to go to college and continue her education.
Grace has endured so many demons including self-harm, borderline eating disorder, losing her grandad, her cat and a family friend. Her mum was also misdiagnosed with cancer. Grace has had a very tough few years for such a young woman. Grace is an inspiration and her mum’s Hero.
Winner Imogen Robson-Hemmings
Imogen is an amazing mum to two children, one of which has autism. Imogen was nominated by her daughter Hermione who just doesn’t realise how her mother has had the strength to cope with the daily struggles of being an ASD parent. She says she sees it in other people eyes and tone of their voices when asking How do you Cope? How is she not losing it? She seems very stressed!
As her son has hit the teenage year’s other issues occur puberty, aggression, and hormones yet Imogen’s love for her son never faulters. Her daughter says her mum had dreams of going travelling around the world, climbing mountains, maybe living abroad one day but has now consciously given up her dreams for her son, something she deems very brave. Over the last 10 years Imogen’s health has deteriorated due to stress related illnesses’ but she never wavers in her love for her family
Support Group of the Year Award
Sponsors: Top Lips
Winner Jane Green
Jane started the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome & Hypermobility Disorders organisation in 2019 due to being diagnosed herself. The group are unique in that they provide specialised support and help improve awareness knowledge and understanding of the illness. Jane actively supports members to live a more fulfilled life, signposting resources, providing positive activities, therapies, and hobbies
Jane now has 300+ members via a private Facebook group plus a non-members page. The Online community is very important to Jane with many people suffering in silence. Janes’ constant drive is to improve a wider knowledge to everyone and is working with leaders to create a world where the condition is recognised and fully understood.
Charity Supporter of the year
Sponsors: Anna Kennedy Online
Winner: Giuliana Wheater
Giuliana Wheater is an author and multi award winning therapist working with autism, SEN, and mental health.
She is the founder of Therapies for Special Needs and Rainbow Kids Touch Therapy.
She’s a teacher, trainer, passionate public speaker and active advocate and educator. She is the Wellbeing Ambassador for the international Autism charity Anna Kennedy Online. Her work has been recognised by the Children’s University as a Learning Destination.
Giuliana has been featured many times on BBC radio, in the National press and magazines as well as regional radio and press. She is a regular contributor to Autism Eye, Autism Parenting and SEN magazine. She is the specialist member of the panel for the UK Indian Head Massage Community.
Giuliana was awarded a Certificate of Achievement by the National Diversity awards in 2021 as a shortlisted Positive Role Model for the National Diversity Awards out of 55,000 nominees.
Her proudest achievement is being Mum to 4 neurodiverse children.