Laois Offaly Autism champion is finalist

Portarlington Autism awareness campaigner Edel Shaw is in the final four of the national Calor Community Champion 2012 Awards.

Portarlington Autism awareness campaigner Edel Shaw is in the final four of the national Calor Community Champion 2012 Awards.

Online voting made for a nailbiting finish last Monday, but an impressive 3,504 votes was just enough to gain her a spot in the final.

The secretary of LOFFA (Laois and Offaly Families for Autism), was thrilled with the response from the Port community and LOFFA members.

“It was amazing, I did not expect that level of support. A few people were reminding everybody to vote, especially Jackie Maher who nominated me, I am particularly grateful to her,” she said.

Six finalists including two judges ‘wildcards’ were announced last Monday, who will now face a judging panel led by TV and radio presenter Hector O’hEochagáin and Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

“I hope I can represent LOFFA well,” Edel said.

The overall winner will be announced next Monday, September 3, and if it is Edel, LOFFA will get a €7,500 boost as her chosen charity.

“It would be brilliant to win, I would be very honoured. The money would go directly to more therapies and services to families who need it. Funding is critical, we get no money except through the generosity of local people,” she said.

She also would receive €1,500 as a personal award but plans to donate that to the autism school in Kildare where her son Jack (9) is a pupil.

“Saplings has just got recognition from the Department of Education but we still have to part-fund it. The Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin have donated the old Kill primary school and parents are renovating it,” she said.

LOFFA help over 280 families of children and adults in the autism spectrum, providing support, funding therapies,

See www.loffa.ie for more.