Mackenzie Thorpe is to become the patron of a pioneering North East charity to mark its 40th anniversary.
Middlesbrough-born Mackenzie, who is celebrating his 30th year as a professional artist, says he is proud to announce his support for the North East Autism Society.
To mark him becoming patron, Mackenzie will make a special visit to the charity’s New Warlands Farm, at Burnhope, County Durham, between 12 noon and 2pm on December 2.
He will meet service-users and be given a tour of the pioneering facilities. An announcement will also be made about a significant expansion of the Society’s services across the wider North-East.
The award-winning charity, launched in 1980, provides a wide range of services to support autistic children, young people and adults, and their families.More recently, the Society has broadened its services to include support for those with other examples of neurodiversity.
Mackenzie will draw on his own inspirational story of growing up with dyslexia, now accepted as a neurodiverse condition, and his consequent struggles with feelings of isolation and failure, before transforming his life through his talent for art.
Mackenzie Thorpe said:
“I’m proud to become a patron of North East Autism Society because I know what it is like to feel like an outsider – when I was at school they said I was lazy and stupid because I had undiagnosed dyslexia and no-one understood me.
“Thankfully the world is now waking up to how neurodiverse people think and access the world around them. Organisations like the North East Autism Society are vital in giving people the support they need. In so many ways neurodiverse people have a unique set of talents and abilities which not everyone else has, and this is what we need to shout loud about and celebrate and focus on.”
John Phillipson, chief executive of the North East Autism Society, said:
“Mackenzie Thorpe is an iconic figure whose work is in demand worldwide, so we are thrilled to welcome him as our patron.
“He is a man known for having a big heart, who is passionate about his North East roots, and his incredible journey is an inspiration to anyone who feels isolated or disadvantaged in any way.He underlines perfectly why no one should ever be judged just because of their differences – and why we must remember that we are all diverse and unique. We look forward to working with him.”
The Society’s Christmas appeal this year will raise money for autistic young people, with part of the proceeds being used to set up art groups across the North East.