AUTISTIC TEENAGER GETS SHOUT OUT FROM TV PERSONALITY FOR COPING DURING LOCKDOWN
TV personality shout-out for autistic teenager.
Autistic teenager Leon Watts couldn’t have been more thrilled, when TV presenter Chris Tarrant gave him a mention. The nod came during a recent virtual charity quiz night.
Leon, who’s 16 and lives with his family in Oakhurst, Swindon, is autistic. He’s one of the young people who attend The Platform Project, a not-for-profit young development programme. The project supports young people interested in starting their own business. For some of those young people, mainstream education has not worked well for them – for a variety of reasons.
It was only in February that Leon started attending the Platform Project. He both fascinated and inspired his colleagues there with his determination to help others like him.
Leon had already established an online community under his own branding of ‘Autoism’. Mad about cars since he was three, Leon uses his love of all things on four wheels to raise awareness of autism. All with the aim of educating and inspiring others.
“When I was three, I watched Top Gear. One time they did a piece on Britain’s Most Hated Car and it was the Austin Allegro which was jumping trucks. I loved it.
I’ve loved cars since then. I’m a member of Swindon Young Drivers and I’m already looking at my own car,” Leon said, with clear excitement about turning 17 in 2021.
Charity quiz night
Recently Leon and his mum Debbie, took part in a charity quiz night run by Cirencester-based wealth management company St Jame’s Place (SJP). Hosting the quiz was Chris Tarrant.
Debbie sent a message to the organisers to ask if Chris could mention Leon who, at that time, was struggling with lockdown.
Debbie said: “Leon has been strong during lockdown given that he’s not been able to see his friends. Nor has he been able to attend his usual ‘car’ events. His usual routine of life – like everyone’s – has suffered disruption. And for someone with autism that’s so difficult to cope with. He had one super one difficult week so I sent a message to Chris when we attended SJP’s charity quiz night. It was amazing that Chris responded to it.”
Leon’s love of cars means that he knows an amazing amount of detail about most super cars. This in-depth knowledge has made him very visible to many in the world of high-performance cars.
Coupled with his courage around sharing his journey with autism, he’s linked up with many well-known famous car lovers. They include Neil Clifford, CEO of Kurt Geiger, Paul Woodman & Tiff Needell from Lovecars. Also Guy Berryman from Coldplay – who’s also the creative director for The Road Rat magazine with editor Mikey Harvey. Then too the racing driver Marino Franchitti, and many more. Leon is now planning his next charity car event.
Sadie Sharp, founder of Swindon’s Platform Project said: “Leon is an inspiration to us all. We’re confident that he will have a career in that industry as his passion is so clear for all to see.
He, and many of the young people who come to us, often need a safe space to gain their confidence and access to opportunities which work for them. We are proud to have Leon as part of our ‘family’.”
Residents encouraged to sign up for Beat the Street 2019
Beat the street is back! Beat the Street is set to return to Swindon and residents can now pick up their cards ready to join in the fun when the game launches.
2019 is the second year of the initiative running in Swindon. Beat the Street encourages people to get active outdoors. It turns whole towns and cities into a giant game. Players tap cards and fobs against sensors called Beat Boxes while walking or cycling to earn points. Whether competing as a team or an individual there are prizes to win.
Last year’s event was a huge success. An unprecedented 32,000 local people took part. They walked and cycled a massive 313,000 miles in six weeks. A record for any of the Beat the Street challenges so far.
This year’s challenge begins on Wednesday, 25 September and runs for six weeks.
A launch event will be taking place on the day from 4pm – 6pm at the GWR Park on Faringdon Road. There will fun activities and double points available on Beat Boxes.
Beat the Street starts on 25th September, and cards and maps will shortly vavailable from distribution points including Swindon Central Library.
From left: Peter Barrett and Omelia Legg, library and info assistants at Swindon Central Library pictured with Stuart Arthur from Beat the Street.
Primary school pupils will have a fob given to them. Other players can collect cards and a map for free from distribution points across Swindon. They include selected supermarkets, libraries and leisure centres.
Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said:
“Beat the Street is only one week away. So make sure you pick up a card and map so that you’re ready to start earning points for your chosen school or team straight away.
“We’ve already seen lots of excitement ahead of the game kicking off. Primary schools are eager to travel even further than last year and lots of workplaces and community teams are signing up to play. Beat the Street is a fun way to get active and explore new areas of Swindon. So I encourage people to get involved. Last year we were one of the top towns so let’s beat that this year and be the top town in the country.”
On the theme of exploring Swindon have a root round:
Flog it!, may be no more – in terms or recommissioning at least. But fans and antique lovers need not fret, for Wiltshire resident and Swindon enthusiast will soon be back on your screens with his new show: Curiosity.
Curiosity is a competitive format which puts contestants’ knowledge of antiques and collectables to the test. In each episode two teams of two will move from room to room, using their skills, expertise and intuition to take on different tasks and challenges – all against the clock.
Paul and his wife Charlotte dreamed up the initial idea.
Paul, who lives in Wiltshire with Charlotte and their children Dylan and Meredith, said: ‘This show is the culmination of an idea Charlotte and I came up with at home at our kitchen table.’
‘I always loved any kind of treasure hunt,’ Charlotte Martin said. “Then working on various series myself in television, meeting Paul and being immersed in the world of antiques and collectables I began to think about how we could bring an element of a ‘searching’ together with our mutual love of vintage, quirky and social history into one programme. Gradually the idea of Curiosity took shape and it’s been amazing to see it become a reality.
The pair teamed up with Pete Lawrence, the boss of Bristol-based independent company Hungry Gap Productions to develop the format and bring Curiosity to life.
The programme is set in a series of distinctive rooms including The Den of Antiquity and So Last Century and combines vintage and social history in an entertaining way.
‘Our teams are tasked with finding fakes, spotting links between objects and discovering the fascinating stories behind the kind of trinkets and treasures that cram collectable emporiums and second-hand shops throughout the land,’ Pete said.
‘Paul is a fountain of knowledge and he brings the stories of the objects to life explaining their provenance and unique attributes.’
Paul’s ‘co-presenter’ in the series is a four-legged actor – a Bassett hound named after his own dog: Baxter.
‘Baxter is my mate and my side kick at home. The programme is a bit quirky like him. He’s a proper character and this is his five minutes of fame – sort of. In real life the specially trained stage dog is actually called Maggie! That’s Curiosity for you!’
Curiosity comes to our screens on Monday April 1 at 2.15pm on BBC One and will run weekdays for three weeks.
Listeners! I have grave news for you. No apologies for the pun. I can’t help myself, I can’t stop digging – they’ll be the death of me.
Esteemed Swindon historian, Frances Bevan, has got a new blog. And it promises to be a rather riveting combination of research and fictionalised stories with which Frances will tell the story of Radnor Street Cemetery in Swindon. And, I guess, its inhabitants.
‘Every death touches someone; a husband, a wife, a friend, a lover, a stranger, leaving a mark on history itself. Each of these blogposts begin with the re-imagined stories of that unknown witness and continues with researched facts supported by contemporary accounts. Sources include books, emphemera etc held at Local Studies, Central Library, parish registers, Radnor Street Cemetery burial registers, Wills, census returns and the British Newspaper Archives website.’
So this Beat the Street Swindon challenge sounds like fantastic family fun. Read more about it all below.
Swindon is set to be transformed into a giant game this autumn as thousands of residents compete to see if their school, community or business can walk, run or cycle the furthest.
Running from 12 September to 24 October, Beat the Street is a free, fun challenge where people are rewarded with points and prizes for exploring their town on foot or bicycle.
More than 160 special sensors called ‘Beat Boxes’ will appear across Swindon. Players tap the Beat Boxes with cards and fobs to track their journey and earn points for themselves and their team – the more Beat Boxes people swipe the more points they earn.
Schools and community groups across Swindon will be competing against each other to see if they can travel the furthest, climb the leaderboards and win hundreds of pounds worth of sport and fitness equipment.
Families are encouraged to play for their local school. While the wider community can create their own teams by email@example.com.
‘I’m Jessica, the Creative Director and Author of Honestly Ombré, a vegan lifestyle blog. Honestly Ombré aims to inspire its readers in all aspects of life, including product reviews, life experience, occasional advice and vegan health and wellbeing.
In May 2017 I launched my company Honestly Ombre Holistic Therapy. I offer a range of relaxing and pampering body & beauty treatments, all of which are vegan and cruelty free. If you would like more information, you can find out more here or click the ‘Holistic’ link at the top of the page.’
Jessica is highlighting the importance of getting your smear test with her campaign #NailYourSmear
Beauty therapy company gives free manicures to encourage smear tests
‘Honestly Ombré, a local beauty therapy company, is promoting a #NailYourSmear campaign to encourage women to have – or at least book – smear tests by the end of March 2018.
The Swindon based business is offering completely free manicures to those going for check-ups.
Smear test screening has fallen to an all time low with only 62% of women attending a screening in 2017. Yet in the UK, cervical cancer affects 3,000 women every year and is the biggest killer of women under the age of 35.
Honestly Ombré’s Founder Jessica Wallbridge had precancerous cells removed that were identified during a smear test.
“I have personal experience of precancerous cells being identified and removed at a young age that were picked up during a routine test. If I had waited much longer to get a test I might not have been so fortunate.’
“By offering a simple incentive such as free manicures, I want to encourage others to get checked. There is no limit to the campaign. If I end up doing 100 free manicures, it will be worth it, knowing that I might have saved somebody’s life.
“Almost 1,000 women in the UK die from cervical cancer every year. This is tragic given that the disease is treatable and the prospect of a complete cure is good if it’s diagnosed at an early stage. If I can contribute in some way to making the smear test experience a positive one, I’ll count the campaign a success!”
Honestly Ombré is encouraging other businesses to become involved in the campaign by using the #NailYourSmear hashtag to raise awareness and by creating their own campaigns to help increase smear test screening attendance. The campaign began on the 2nd February and will run until the 31st March 2018.
Jessica adds, “The feedback on social media so far has been amazing, and I’ve had lots of women contact me, sharing their experiences.
“I want to break down the perceived social stigma regarding smear tests that can often make women feel embarrassed or avoid going for these critical check ups.
“We need it to be normal for women to talk about their smear tests, and if I can encourage just a handful of women get past the hurdle of booking or going for their test, then I’ll be pleased.’
About Cervical Cancer and Screening
Cervical cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages.Yet smear tests can detect cell changes at a very early stage, and this is crucial for early treatment to reduce the risk of cervical cancer developing.
The NHS offers a cervical screening programme to all women from the age of 25, and recommends women are checked every 3 years between the age of 25 and 49, and every 5 years between the ages of 50 to 64.
About Honestly Ombré
Honestly Ombré is a vegan and cruelty free beauty and holistic therapy company based in Old Town, Swindon.