06:00 Saturday 21 June 2014

Soham schoolboy inspires local band, The 142's, to raise awareness about autism

Written byJORDAN DAY

A band is using its love of rock music to raise much-needed awareness and funds for people with autism.

The 142’s is a popular three-piece rock band made up of Bernie Sawford, Drew Keen and Andy Barlow, all of whom live in the Ely area.

The 142’s have been entertaining the crowds at parties and events for some time but it was earlier this year that they came up with a new concept – the Autism Rocks Roadshow.

Through the initiative, which has been endorsed by hit British reggae/pop band, UB40, they are helping to raise awareness and funds for the autism charity, Anna Kennedy Online.

The inspiration behind the initiative is 13-year-old Gideon Wells, who is autistic and lives in Soham.

Bernie, who is a bass guitarist and vocalist in the band, and works as a taxi driver for A10 Taxis in Ely, drives Gideon to and from school each day.

Bernie, 59, said: “When I first met Gideon it used to take two or three people to physically get him into school and his journey to school was very distressing for him.

“Now, he’s happy, comfortable and walks himself into school unattended. It’s all about routine and reassurance.

“Gideon is the first person with autism who I’ve had close dealings with and he is the reason we’re going out of way to help others with the condition.”

The way the initiative works is that anyone holding a charitable event can book the 142’s to perform. In return, they ask for 10 per cent of the money raised at that event to be donated to Anna Kennedy Online.

But it works in another way too.

The fact the roadshow has been endorsed by UB40 means that anyone, anywhere in the world, can raise awareness about autism – and funds for the charity – by simply registering with the band to secure permission to use the Autism Rocks Roadshow logo at their event.

The band’s first event was held in April in Stuntney and raised £500 in one night.

For more information, visit www.theautismrocksroadshow.com.

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