Autistic Sunderland teen receives PM's award for aviation book

  • Published
Jack BerryImage source, Sara Berry
Image caption,
Three armed forced charities will benefit from sales of the 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.

Image source, Sara Berry
Image caption,
Jack Berry's colourful illustrations have been praised by pilots and military experts

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."

Image source, Mention the War
Image caption,
Details explaining the history of each plane and helicopter, written by pilots and military experts, accompany Jack's illustrations

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.

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."

Image source, Mention the War
Image caption,
A trip to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre helped develop the youngster's love of aircraft

Follow BBC North East & Cumbria on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Send your story ideas to

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.