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Hundreds of walkers descend on Sunderland park in the name of autism acceptance

Around 400 walkers gathered together at Herrington Country Park to take part in the North East Autism Society’s annual Walk for Acceptance.

Friday, 22nd April 2022, 3:19 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd April 2022, 3:52 pm

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The event, which had to be held virtually for the past two years due to Covid-19, marked the culmination of the charity’s month-long calendar of events in celebration of Autism Acceptance Month, which runs throughout April.

The North East Autism Society (NEAS), based in Chester-le-Street, was founded by a group of parents in Sunderland in 1980 and has hosted its annual Walk for Acceptance, formerly the Walk for Autism, for more than a decade.

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North East Autism Walk at Herrington Country Park with patron Pam Royle cutting the start ribbon.

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The sponsored walk, which raises funds for NEAS’s frontline services, was officially opened at 11am by ITV legend Pam Royle, who was recently unveiled as one of the charity’s patrons, and NEAS CEO John Phillipson.

NEAS Fundraising Manager, Kevin Meikle, said: “The walk is always our biggest event of the year, both in terms of fundraising and raising awareness, so it was incredible to see so many people coming together again after three years away.

“As a charity, we passionately campaign all year round for better understanding, awareness and acceptance of autism, and it’s great to see so many local people getting involved and helping us to champion that message,”

As well as the walk, this month the charity has also been working with schools, businesses and individuals across the region to offer education, advice and support around autism and neurodiversity.

North East Autism Walk at Herrington Country Park.

Pam Royle added: “It was a huge honour to become a patron of such a wonderful charity, and I’m thrilled that my first official duty was to start the Walk For Acceptance.”

Mr Phillipson added said: “Everything we do at the North East Autism Society is geared towards improving the lives of autistic people and their families, and we know that one of the ways we can do that is by improving society’s understanding – and of course, acceptance – of autism and neurodiversity.

“That’s why today’s event is so important, not only does it help to spread our message of autism acceptance across the region, but it shows just how much we can all achieve if we come together from a place of understanding and simply embrace the things that make us all different and unique.”

North East Autism Walk at Herrington Country Park.
North East Autism Walk at Herrington Country Park.
North East Autism Walk at Herrington Country Park.