A PIONEERING autism charity in south east Northumberland is aiming to build a wall full of smiles as a thank you to those who have supported its cause.
For the last 11 years The Toby Henderson Trust has provided vital help and support for hundreds of families of children and young people with autism from its base at The Old Barn at Whitehouse Farm near Morpeth.
Five years ago, the charity faced closure because of spiralling costs and a lack of donations as people battled through the recession, and even today meeting the overheads is a constant battle.
But now the charity is looking forward to a brighter future after Hareside Primary School in Cramlington stepped in to offer an unused building which can be transformed into a new base.
Mining giant Rio Tinto Alcan also donated a £61,100 grant to help work get under way in improving the former caretaker’s building, a 1970s three-room bungalow.
Now, trust founder Lesley Henderson, who named it after her autistic son Toby, now 19, says they want to create a Wall of Smiles at the new premises to say thank you to the businesses and individuals who have supported the trust.
The news comes just two days after World Autism Day.
Lesley, 54, said: “Along with our families, we are incredibly excited about our new adventure. This is exactly the new beginning we need.
“Our new premises will mean not only new but extended service provision and our new partnership location with Hareside Primary school will hopefully work towards promoting acceptance of individuals with disabilities and stamp out discrimination by targeting and achieving understanding with our children.
“Within the plans we want to create a Wall of Smiles to acknowledge those who are donating to this amazing project and to help make it happen.
“We are appealing to anyone interested in offering their support to help us make this ambitious dream come true.”
Lesley is appealing for donations of £50 to buy a smiley face trust logo which will be mounted on the wall and will include the name of the person who made the donation.
Work on the wall will begin later in the summer.
For more information contact Lesley on (01670) 789753 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org