A teenage illustrator is drawing on his own experiences to raise awareness and understanding of autism.
Will Hawkes, from Little Sutton, was 16 when working with Liverpool children’s author, Jude Lennon, he co-wrote his first book featuring a character with autism.
‘Hal at the End of the Street’ was published in 2018, followed by ‘Hal and the Parties’ earlier this year.
A third book is in the pipeline, along with school assemblies, with support from Redrow’s Ledsham Community Fund to help spread awareness.
Will’s mum Jane explained: “Will wanted to give other young people like himself a voice in literature and a character in books that they could relate to. The books produced with Jude tell the story of Hal, a teenager with autism. They were so well received by students, parents and teachers that they decided to develop additional stories.
“I’m qualified at Level 2 Understanding Autism and so, working with Jude, we want to take our autism awareness message further and hold school assemblies to promote the message, using the books to introduce the subject. It will benefit children with autism and learning difficulties and benefit neuro-typical children by helping them understand their classmates and the wider condition.”
Will Hawkes with Kelly Chandler, from Redrow
Will is studying arts and media at college and, as part of the course, he’s undertaking a work placement at Story House in Chester. He is also taking part in a 12-month mentorship programme with Comics Youth, a Liverpool-based community interest company, during which he will write a story and produce a comic.
“At the start of the publishing process when Will was illustrating the stories he lacked confidence and didn’t want his photo taken or to talk to anyone about the books. His confidence has really grown – he’s like a different person having had the success of publishing two books and sharing his story. The opportunities he now has in front of him are amazing and part of that comes from working on the books,” Jane added.
The £1,100 gifted to the project by Redrow will be used towards publishing costs and to facilitate four school assemblies.
Elaine Mounsey, area sales manager for our North West division, said: “Will is a really inspiring young man and it’s great to see that he’s using his creative talents to raise awareness about an issue that means so much to him. This autism awareness initiative is a fantastic cause and we hope that the support from our Ledsham Community Fund will help spread the message amongst not just those living in the immediate area, but the wider community.”
Redrow’s voluntary community funds have seen around £25,000 shared amongst various projects local to its Ledsham Garden Village. This is in addition to the £13 million the company is investing in the local area to support the growth of the neighbourhood where up to 2,000 new homes are being built.