Autistic Sunderland teen receives PM's award for aviation book
A teenage aviation enthusiast with autism who illustrated a book in aid of military charities, has received the Prime Minister's Points of Light award.
Jack Berry, from Sunderland, who is also selectively mute, began using art as an emotional outlet during the coronavirus pandemic.
His book Flying High in the Sunlit Silence depicts aircraft including Lancaster bombers and Spitfires.
Jack's mum, Sara Berry, said she was "over the moon" for him.
"The aviation industry and the RAF have wrapped their arms around Jack and his disability.
"For him, he just wanted to help people and do his part during the pandemic. Jack loves drawing and his drawings have pulled communities together on the whole," she said.
In a letter to the 14-year-old, Boris Johnson said: "With your beautifully illustrated book, you have captured the majesty of our nation's aviation history.
"From the restored NHS Spitfire which lit up our skies with the names of NHS heroes, to the splendour of the Red Arrows, your pictures tell uplifting stories all while raising important funds for SSAFA."
With an initial interest in planes stemming from his grandfather's work on Concorde, Jack's fascination was cemented by trips to airshows and the Battle of Britain Flight Memorial Visitor Centre in Lincoln.
Sara said he had also been inspired by the lockdown efforts of Captain Sir Tom Moore.
Three charities chosen by the youngster - SSAFA's Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum, International Bomber Command Centre and Lincolnshire's Lancaster Association - receive a percentage of the book sales.
SSAFA chief executive Sir Andrew Gregory, said: "Jack has inspired everybody with whom he has come in contact. I and all in SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity salute him."
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