Dad whose young son has autism organises charity music festival in Lower Stondon
- Credit: Archant
A father-of-two whose son is severely autistic is organising a music festival this Saturday to raise money for two special needs schools.
Lee Darton is holding the Puzzle Piece Charity Music Festival at the Bird in Hand pub on Bedford Road in Lower Stondon.
Lee’s son, Joshua, was diagnosed with autism in 2011, when he was three years old.
Lee, who has been in the Royal Air Force for more than 17 years and is currently stationed at RAF Henlow, was serving in Afghanistan when he got the news.
The 35-year-old said: “It was a relief to get the diagnosis, but there were a lot of questions. It sparked me to research autism, and I’m still learning now. It’s still difficult for us all.”
Autism is a condition which affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.
Lee said: “When he was about 18 months old we went to the doctor because he wasn’t talking. They did some tests and that’s when they said he might be autistic.
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“He couldn’t mix with people. He was very much on his own and just played by himself.
“Through his school, things are a lot better. He’s learnt to play with other children and interact more.
“Joshua is still to say a single word. He tries, and since the beginning of the year he is almost able to say ‘please’. With help from his sister Lottie, who is four, other family members and his teachers, his communication has come a long way in the form of sounds and sign language.”
The doting dad, who has also served in the Falklands, Kuwait and Qatar, is hoping to raise more than £2,000 to be split between Joshua’s current school in Oxfordshire and a school where he lives in Buckinghamshire, where he is to start in September.
Lee said: “The schools look after children with all types of disabilities and survive on donations to purchase equipment for them.”
The music festival, which starts at 2.30pm, will include five acts, ranging from an ABBA tribute band to a rock cover soloist. There will also be a barbecue, games, tombola, disco and raffle, with prizes including a tour of the Lotus F1 headquarters, a flying lesson, TV, beauty vouchers and signed sporting memorabilia.
If you can offer any help on the day - such as face painting - email Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets are £5 for adults and £1 for children, which include a go on the tombola.