On Monday 11th March, a group of seven local young people with autism visited Westminster Abbey to meet Her Majesty The Queen.
The excited group attended a service to celebrate Commonwealth Day, with attendance from Members of The Royal Family, UK and Commonwealth dignitaries, and 800 schoolchildren and young people from across the UK.
The young people are part of a larger monthly get together group which is held at the Arborfield Green Community Centre, with sessions run by British Autism Advocate Carly Jones MBE.
The theme for this year’s service, ‘A Connected Commonwealth’, aimed to highlight the practical value and global engagement made possible as a result of cooperation between the culturally diverse and widely dispersed family of Commonwealth nations, who work together in friendship and goodwill. This was a particularly special event, as the Commonwealth begins to celebrate its 70th anniversary this year.
The group’s home is part of Crest Nicholson’s new Garden Village of Arborfield Green, with monthly meetings held in the Community Centre operated by Crest on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and opened up to the wider community from its previous exclusive military use in 2017.
Sammie Bryans, Development Director for Crest Nicholson, commented:
“This is a fantastic way to acknowledge the important work done by Carly through her group. They are very deserving of receiving this level of recognition and form an important part of our community here in Arborfield Green. Carly’s office is based in our Community Centre, and Carly and her daughter Cherish are also part of our local Events Committee, so they really are very much a part of the community here.”
Carly Jones MBE, British Autism Advocate, commented:
“I set up the group because I became frustrated after meeting so many young people with autism experiencing isolation. Their parents needed a chance to build relationships with other parents in similar situations, so it made sense to offer a group setting to support those with autism, and their family and friends. The group has already built some wonderful friendships so when the opportunity to attend the Commonwealth Day service with the theme ‘A Connected Commonwealth’ arose it seemed a perfect fit. The day was extra special as it was one of our guests’ birthday. It was wonderful to see such excitement and happiness in the group, and I am hugely grateful to the Royal Commonwealth Society for their diversity, inclusion, and care.”