Vicar's autism work recognised with lifetime achievement award

Dr John Gillibrand with his award

A Welsh vicar has won a lifetime achievement award for his work raising awareness of autism.

The Reverend Dr John Gillibrand, vicar of Lllangeler, near Llandysul, is the first winner of the Autism Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award.

He received the award in recognition of his dedication and commitment to the condition, which his son Adam has.

Dr Gillibrand has advocated at the Welsh Government and Westminster on behalf of people with autism. This has included setting up the Cross Party Autism Group in the National Assembly of Wales. He has also worked to raise awareness of the condition within the Church.

Last month, his book, "Disabled Church, Disabled Society: The Implications of Autism for Philosophy, Theology and Politics", was shortlisted for the 2013 Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing.

He said: "It is an honour to be recognised by so many people here in Wales. There have been positive steps over the last two decades but far too many people with autism are still waiting for essential support. It is important that we keep on talking about autism and ensure that people are aware of the challenges faced by people with autism.

"The right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people's lives."

Dr Gillibrand was presented with the award at Holly's Ball, an annual fundraiser for autism charities. This year Holly's Ball raised more than £7,000 for the National Autistic Society (NAS) Cymru and Autism Cymru.

Jo Salmon, Holly's Ball founder, said, "As a parent of a child with autism, John is an inspiration. He's worked so hard to raise autism awareness in Wales and on a political level. He's paved the way for other parents to follow.

"We are so honoured to be awarding John with the very first Autism Heroes Lifetime Achievement. It's so well deserved for his dedication and commitment to the cause of autism while facing the struggles that many of us face as parents or carers."

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