By Carol Stott
How appropriate that the first post on my new blog comes at the end of an era. Today my friends, Polly and Jonathan Tommey, have arrived in the US with their family, for the beginning of a new adventure. I met Polly and Jon just a few years ago, having earlier watched their son Billy’s progress from afar. Billy was a little boy when I first heard about him. A very poorly little boy. Now, as he prepares for his move to Texas, he is a fine, healthy young man, looking forward to whatever comes next. So as a new era begins for the Tommey family, how inspiring it is that, just before they leave, Polly and her team launch a new initiative for the Autism Trust – Polly’s Place.
In the words of the team, Polly’s Place is a store (online from today and with a flagship store on Sunninghill High Street, Ascot) for supporters and people with autism to share their crafts and creations with the community, while generating income for the Autism Trust; people with autism working and earning for themselves, giving autism a chance. Polly will be back frequently to keep her eye on things at Ascot HQ, and on her daughter Bella (who is staying behind for now to complete her studies and keep her eye, in turn, on developments here). Whilst Polly is away, Polly’s Place, The Autism Trust and its various projects remain in the safe hands of Stephanie Lord and her team.
I travelled down from Cambridge to Polly’s Place for the launch on Saturday October 6th, with Wallis, a 9 year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, who was determined to meet Polly before she left for the States. After an entertaining drive (with SatNav directions from Homer Simpson and Status Quo filling the gaps, to Wallis’s delight) we arrived in Ascot on a sunny, fresh October afternoon. We were greeted by the fragrance, bustle and sheer wonder of Polly’s Place. Stephanie Lord and various members of the team, including Emily, Dave and Brenda, showed us around the premises – the offices, the work-place for people with autism, an impressive clinic/training room and of course, the shop. Ann Jones provided tea and delicious cakes and Lisa Galton brought the pink champagne. What a tribute to the efforts of Polly, Stephanie and the team over the last few months. Andrew Dobosz was doing his usual professional job, with the help of Nic, getting the whole thing on camera, ready for a documentary series with the Autism Media Channel / Sky TV before Christmas. The Barbers (Polly’s brother, Jamie, sister-in-law Ella, sister Harriet and their families, Toby and lots of his cousins, all looking cool) were there in force. It was a treat to see them, with their friends, members of the public and the autism community arriving to join in the fun and wonder. Read the full blog post HERE.