Honour for Wirral Autism Together's riverpark volunteers

A group of adults supported by Wirral charity Autism Together has won a prestigious national award honouring their work at a popular local visitor attraction.

Chris Molloy, Daniel Rodger, Jake Sanguinetti, Liam Sharp, Steven Parson and Conor Jones were recognised by the Dimensions Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List 2021 for their work at Port Sunlight River Park.

Supported by Autism Together staff, they take turns to run the food kiosk, alongside their regular River Park duties, such as mowing and litter picking.

The men were recognised, in part, for their efforts in helping reopen the popular River Park kiosk, after it had closed during the pandemic, and began serving drinks and snacks to the visiting public again last summer.

The group was chosen by an expert panel of judges, who saw almost 200 entries this year. They take their place on the 2021 Leaders' List along with a select group of individuals who have achieved so much over the past year.

Mike Stormes, Autism Together activity manager, said: "This has been a huge undertaking by the men from our River Park volunteer group and we're so proud of all they've achieved. The work they have been doing around the River Park has been brilliant and it is a pleasure to see them recognised for it."

The overall winners are also judged and chosen by former winners of the awards.

The event was hosted by BBC Radio 2 DJ Ken Bruce, whose son Murray was a Leader in 2019 and a Leaders' List judge in 2020. Ken said: "Murray and I are staunch supporters of all the work that Dimensions does, and it is a privilege to host the Leaders' List event for the second year.

"It's always so inspirational to hear the stories of the nominees and winners, who have gone above and beyond to help others in a very challenging time. All of them truly are Leaders everyone can look up to."

Recent Dimensions research revealed that 96% of respondents felt that everyone can learn something from people with learning disabilities and autism.

In addition, 84% said that people with learning disabilities and autistic people should be shown more in sports, arts and media, and 75% said that is easy for people in the wider community to forget about people with learning disabilities and autism, making initiatives such as the annual Leaders List all the more significant.

Steve Scown, chief executive at Dimensions, said: "The winners of Dimensions' 2021 Leaders List - and indeed all the extraordinary nominees - are leading great change in our society.

"In spotlighting their achievements Dimensions aims to accelerate the pace of that change. Let’s all be inspired by their achievements."

Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive at Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, said: "The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders' List celebrates the remarkable achievements and contributions that people with learning disabilities and autism make to communities and to the lives of others each and every day.