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Autism campaigner for Gravesend and Dartford wins Most Inspirational Volunteer award

PUBLISHED: 14:50 14 March 2018 | UPDATED: 14:50 14 March 2018

Mandy Garford at the NAS awards. Picture: National Autistic Society

Mandy Garford at the NAS awards. Picture: National Autistic Society

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A Dartford mum-of-three has been named Most Inspirational Volunteer at the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) annual awards.

Mandy Garford was recognised at a ceremony in Harrogate on March 7 for the huge amount of work she does to support autistic people and their families.

A total of 15 awards were handed out to individuals and teams involved in education, health, social care, employment, community projects and volunteering.

Carol Povey, director of the NAS Centre for Autism, said: “Mandy should be very proud for standing out among so many high quality nominations and impressing the judges with the incredible amount of work she does to support autistic people and families in Kent.”

Ms Garford, a qualified teacher, has three children on the autism spectrum, and was instrumental in setting up the Dartford and Gravesham branch of the NAS in 2017, which supports local children and adults on the autism spectrum.

She also runs awareness sessions about autism at Canterbury Christ Church University and held a ‘What is Autism?’ day in her town centre.

Ms Garford also holds an Autism Café every week and is considered a one-stop shop for autism, supporting local shops, business and schools to be more autism friendly and helping people across the south east via email and social media.

She is involved in a number of other schemes, in addition to her work as a local councillor and representing autistic people and families at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Autism.

She said, “I’m still in shock and utterly overwhelmed by winning Most Inspirational Volunteer of the Year.

“What an incredible honour. I’m absolutely delighted but truly believe that all those I endeavour to help are those that are inspirational.

“They inspire me to continue.

“A huge thank you to the team at the Dartford and Gravesham branch of the NAS.

“And a thank you to all those that continue to support me - I would not be able to reach so many people without you all.

“And finally a special thank you my partner Tim Cook, the one who is always by my side, supporting and helping me. Without him all of this would not be possible.”

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