Autistic youngsters form musical army to aid soldiers

Students from ESPA College taking part in an Autism4Heroes charity show for wounded, sick and injured soldiers from Phoenix Recovery House at Catterick Garrison.

Students from ESPA College taking part in an Autism4Heroes charity show for wounded, sick and injured soldiers from Phoenix Recovery House at Catterick Garrison.

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YOUNG people with autism are making music to help wounded soldiers.

Students at Sunderland’s Educational Services for People with Autism College have formed a fund-raising army to show support for military personnel injured serving their country.

Autism4Heroes (A4H) welcomed a group of servicemen from a specialist Army recovery centre, run by charity Help For Heroes.

It was a second meeting for the two groups, after the youngsters visited Catterick Garrison, where the unit is based, to perform their uplifting single Help Our Heroes.

Taking to the stage at the college’s Ashbrooke site, the youngsters, aged 18 to 21, shared their experiences and performed their energetic live show, Life, along with college staff.

The servicemen also took part in a singing workshop and listened to a presentation by the college’s teaching awareness group on living with autism.

Assistant college co-ordinator Jak Dixon said: “Autism 4 Heroes was set up to raise awareness of autism and raise money for the Help for Heroes charity.

“It’s been 90 per cent hard work – it’s not all rock and roll.It’s all about facing challenges and overcoming them. Since A4H visited Catterick in December, it has become increasingly apparent that these two seemingly very different groups of people do actually share a lot in common, such as overcoming challenges and obstacles in order to lead a normal life and develop new skills.”  

The group now plan to go on tour to Help For Heroes’ Tedworth House Recovery Centre in Tidworth, Wiltshire, which Jak, 36, said will be a fresh test for the young band.

“Taking all of these on the road will be incredible and add an extra dimension to the project.”

He also praised the parents of band members, who have formed their own support group, the AutisMums. They performed along with their children at Sunderland Minster in December.

A spokeswoman for Phoenix House Recovery Centre said: “A4H played for us at the centre, and we came along to see what they were doing up here.

“It’s amazing, considering they have their own difficulties and problems in life, to take time and do stuff for us.”

Twitter: @janethejourno