Congratulations to our Autism Hero Awards 2023 Winners!
Creative Arts & Media Award
Sponsor Sara Eden Introductions
Winner – Dez Loveartpix
Dez received his diagnosis at the age of 41 and has tirelessly fought to understand his condition daily and help others through his art and breaks the stigma. He is a self-taught artist who creates art daily on his phone to help regulate his condition. He struggles with masking and tries to explain this through his art. Dez has raised thousands of pounds for charities through his art donations and has his art in many public places including France.
Dez has a spotlight coming out with the global app he creates his art on talking about art therapy which went out in June to 150 million viewers worldwide. Due to Dez masking at such a high level he really struggles with people not understanding his condition which is why he also blogs on his website about autism.
Personal Achievement Award
Sponsor Talem Law
Winner – Cory Chapman
Cory is 12 years old and has Autism, severe ADHD, and Global Developmental Delay. When he was 6 months old he stopped
breathing after contracting a sever bout of gastroenteritis, he was non verbal until the age of 5 and now speaks fluently. Cory is addicted to Motorsport so much he has taken up karting. He had a massive accident in April 2021 but made a full recovery and got back in the kart 2 weeks later and won his first race back in the seat.
Cory has been racing in a National Championship for the last 4 seasons organised by Rob Smedley. Cory is now at that age where he moved up a level, so from December 2022 he drives a mini max which is more powerful, he got pole position and got a 2nd on his first outing. Cory has now won over 40 trophies and his parents are extremely proud of him.
The Lifetime Award
Winner – James Punch
James is the most positive, committed, adaptable and professional autism support worker, team leader, manager, trainer, PBS specialist and mentor. The quality James puts
into his work is never too much, he spends every waking moment living, breathing and working with positive social care in mind; it’s inspirational. James goes above and beyond in everything he does, such as picking up significant amounts of overtime working in care and he supports in the community by being a member of support groups, helping families needing advice all whilst having Parkinson’s Disease which makes each day difficult.
Outside of work, James teaches kickboxing to people with autism and other disabilities and he captains a pool team for
people with autism. James really does make a difference.
Leading Business of the Year Award
Sponsor Uk Pet Food
Winner – Lee Chambers
Lee is a Black Autistic Entrepreneur and founder of inclusive and wellbeing company Essentialise. His business is clearly going from strength to strength, winning the Great British
Entrepreneur Awards and being on this year’s Startups 100 Index and mall Business 100.
They are working with clients like IKEA and PwC to make wellbeing more accessible, inclusive and effective for those marginalised groups. Lee’s business is also a cornerstone employer for SEND schools in Lancashire, supporting with careers guidance, placement support and mentoring.
Outside his business he speaks and advocates in the neurodiversity community. Lee became the first Black British scientist to receive a fellowship from the National Academy of Sciences early this year and was out in California receiving it for his work on the impact of the pandemic and mental health of disabled young people.
Charity Supporters of the year
Sibling of the Year
Sponsor Mood bears
Winner – Oliver Stiel
Simon’s brother Oliver is a very much-loved brother. When her was born back in 1992, Simon was very excited to meet him along with his parents and grandparents. As the boys became teenagers, they drifted apart with times that Simon felt he would embarrass him around his friends, and they would also get into a lot of arguments.
Simon says he envied his brother as he was more outgoing than him and after he finished university, he had a paid job but after finishing university Simon struggled to find work. Simon wished him well though. Now as they have got older, they are closer as brothers and Simon realised Oliver was not as confident and outgoing as he thought years ago, they needed each other.
Simon would like to say, “Thanks Oli for being around”.
Outstanding Community Award
Sponsor Born Anxious
Winner – Jade Cook
Jade is the founder of ‘Spectrum Community Arts’ which provide regular classes and workshops for children and adults with special needs and disabilities. A big percentage of her classes are participants with autism and what she manages to encourage out of them is just amazing. She has a team of incredible volunteers whose passion to make the performing arts accessible to all is evident in the enthusiasm and energy that they bring to sessions.
Spectrum is a really special place to be, the children have been given opportunities to perform at conventions, carnivals as well as having their first showcase last year in a
Parent/Carer of the Year Award
Sponsor M A Strum
Winner – Dan Harris
Dan is the Founder and CEO of Neurodiversity in Business, he is an outstanding advocate for autism and neurodiversity. Dan’s unique experiences, as both an individual with autism and the dedicated father to a non-verbal autistic son, affectionately known as ‘The Joshie Man’ have instilled in him a resolute commitment to foster an inclusive environment that embraces neurodivergence.
Dan recently partnered with the city of Peterborough to install 100 autism communication boards throughout the city including in his son’s local play area. This endeavour is particularly meaningful to Dan as these boards empower non-verbal individuals like his son. Dan’s tireless advocacy and his heartfelt commitment to his son truly encapsulate the spirit of an award.
Outstanding Education of the Year Award
Sponsor Autism Reality Bus
Winner – Rob Patterson
“Amanda’s son” who has ASC has always found school a challenging environment, he spent the majority of year 2 in the library and had little time in class, his self-esteem was very low and he didn’t feel like a valued member of his class. Mr Patterson has now been his teacher for the past 2 years and has truly transformed this little boy’s life.
“Amand’s son” spends all his time in the classroom now, learning with his peers and his confidence has rocketed, this is all due to his teacher Mr Patterson being unbelievable skilled in helping him to progress and reach his potential. Reducing this little boy’s stress at school has had a positive impact on his home life and he is far less angry these days. Mr Patterson is a wonderful advocate for his students, and they will be forever grateful.
My special awards go to
Charity Supporters of the year
Young Person of the Year Award
Sponsor Pineapple Performing Arts School
Winner – Kaydi Scottsville
Kaydi set up her own charity ‘Diversified’ when she was only 14 years old after her negative experiences in school left her isolated with no high school education. Kaydi has Autism and ADHD. Since 2021 her charity has directly supported hundreds of autistic young people and given them a safe place to be authentically themselves, makes friendships, access mental health and wellbeing support as well as providing alternative learning opportunities for those who struggle to attend school.
Kaydi’s passion to create positive change for autistic young people led Diversified to become the first autistic led charity in Scotland to deliver the Youth Achievement Award, promoting achievement and leadership for autistic young people. Her accomplishments are nothing short of incredible.
Support group of the Year Award
Sponsor Anna Kennedy Online
Winner – Axia-ASD Post Diagnostic Support Group
This group is specifically for adults diagnosed with Autism through Axia. Dr Linda Buchan started the group in 2015 as a free service to clients so that those who had been diagnosed didn’t feel alone or isolated after their diagnosis. In 2020 when the pandemic hit, the group was sadly forced to cancel their April meeting, but not wishing to leave their clients totally detached, they adopted a Virtual PDSG model which was put in place by the end of 2020.
In Aug 2022 the face-to-face meetings started back up but they retained the virtual ones too. Dr Luke Beardon has been a guest speaker on numerous occasions and has stated the PDSG’s as quite unique. Dr Buchan’s only rule for the group is to respect each other.
People’s Hero Award
Sponsor Top Lips
Winner – Sylvia Mochabo
Sylvia is the founder of Andy Speaks 4 Special Needs Persons Africa, which is an organisation that champions for Neurodevelopmental disabilities, this has only been in operation since 2019. They organise Ride 4 Autism every year during the month of April. Andy Speaks has also set up 2 therapy centres in Special schools to assist the students access affordable therapy.
Sylvia has launched a website called Special Needs Resource Hub which will be an information-based hub where individuals with Autism, care givers and PWD’s can get information on schools, therapy centres, therapists and home emergency care etc. Sylvia is a mum of 2 boys with Autism and really has a passion for doing what she does.