Autism professionals recognised as 2018 NAS award winners announced

The winners of the National Autistic Society’s Autism Professionals Awards were announced at a special ceremony in Harrogate last week. The top accolade, the Lifetime Achievement Award, went to philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley in recognition of her commitment to improving the lives of autistic people through her foundation.

The annual event, supported by headline sponsor Axcis Education Recruitment, was hosted by Jane Asher and Kate Fox and is part of a two-day conference for autism professionals. Jane is president of the National Autistic Society and Kate is an award winning stand-up poet. They handed out 15 awards to individuals and teams involved in education, health, social care, employment, community projects and volunteering.

Laura James was another major winner, receiving the Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum. She is an author and journalist who has campaigned and written widely about autism, including in her memoir Odd Girl Out. Inspirational Volunteer was given to Mandy Garford in recognition of the huge amount of work she does supporting autistic people and families in Kent, in part as chair of the Dartford and Gravesham Branch of the National Autistic Society.

The education accolades went to Ashley High School in Cheshire, the University of Lincoln’s Student Wellbeing Team, Gloucestershire County Council’s IMPACT service and Adele Beeson who works as a specialist skills tutor for Spectrum First Ltd. HM Prison &Young Offenders’ Institution Parc was recognised as Outstanding Adult Service for their work improving support for autistic prisoners and EmployAbility at Cadent received the Most Supportive Employer Award.

Carol Povey, Director of the National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, said: “Huge congratulations to all our winners and finalists. They should all be very proud for standing out among so many high quality nominations.

“It’s been fantastic hearing about their innovative work and the impact it’s having autistic people and their families. But we know that support and services in the UK are still far too patchy. We hope that sharing the stories of our winners and finalists will inspire other people and organisations – and give them some ideas about how they can make a real difference.” 

The winners, chosen by an independent panel of 10 autism experts, are as follows:

Individual awards

  • Axcis Award for Achievement by an Individual Education Professional
    Adele Beeson, Spectrum First Ltd
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Pulse Community Healthcare
    Dame Stephanie Shirley
  • Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum, sponsored by Network Autism
    Laura James, author and journalist
  • Award for Most Inspirational Volunteer, sponsored by Room to Reward
    Mandy Garford, Dartford and Gravesham branch of the National Autistic Society
  • Award for Outstanding Healthcare Professional
    Penelope Clarke, NHS Shetland
  • Award for Most Inspirational Social Care Professional
    Carolyn Tucker, Surrey Choices (pictured)

Team awards

  • Award for Inspirational Education Provision – Schools
    Ashley High School, Cheshire
  • Award for Inspirational Education Provision – Higher and further education
    Student Wellbeing Team, the University of Lincoln
  • Award for Inspirational Education Provision – Other Education Providers
    IMPACT, Gloucestershire County Council
  • Award for Outstanding Adult Services
    Alpha 1 Supported Living Unit – HM Prison &Young Offenders’ Institution Parc
  • Award for Outstanding Health Services
    Axia ASD Ltd
  • Award for Outstanding Family Support
    KAT Family Support, The Kent Autistic Trust
  • Award for Most Supportive Employer
    EmployAbility at Cadent
  • Award for Most Creative Community Project
    Aukestra – Aukestral Creative Solutions
  • Autism Accreditation Excellence Award
    Roman Fields School, Hertfordshire

For more information about the winners and the awards,