Tributes have been paid to NEAS for the “wonderful” life-changing care our staff gave to a much-loved adult, Euan Still. 
Euan’s family have thanked the Society for its “outstanding dedication” in transforming his life over more than 20 years. Euan sadly died, aged 37, after battling cancer for three years.

NEAS staff are mourning the loss of Euan Still, who spent more than 20 years inspiring smiles at the Society.

Tributes have been led by Brian Stoker, the charity’s Head of Care Services.

Euan had an infectious personality, with the ability to make people who were around him smile, and it was always a pleasure to be in his company,” said Brian. I watched him develop into a fine young man and have happy memories of our walks and talks along the beach or cycling around the park.

“He was very much part of our home and enjoyed helping out with daily activities. Euan had a passion for social activities and was happiest when he was going out to restaurants, the disco or karaoke.”

Euan was born in York and was diagnosed as autistic when he was three, after concerns had been raised by his parents, Tony and Janet, when he missed several early developmental milestones.

“He had a fascination for vacuum cleaners, hair-dryers, washing machines, and anything that made a noise or twirled, and the possibility that he could be autistic was uncovered by us,” said Tony.

However, attitudes and understanding were very ill-informed then, and the family remember being told by local education staff in York at the time: “There’s no autism in North Yorkshire.”

“They just didn’t want to consider it, so we travelled up to Edinburgh for a second opinion, and the diagnosis was confirmed within minutes – it was so obvious,” said Tony.

Euan attended a special nursery school until he was six whilst the family faced a battle with bureaucracy over his future education. Finally, on the advice of a specialist in Nottingham, Euan was given a place in a mainstream primary school, with five hours of individual tuition, and a classroom assistant assigned to help with lessons and take him out if he became disruptive.

In the middle of his second year, it became clear that the school was unable to cope, and a turning point came when local education authority made contact with what was then the Tyne and Wear Autistic Society, which was later renamed as the North East Autism Society.

Euan’s behaviour had become very difficult, with screaming and shouting and staying awake at night, and it was taking its toll on everyone. The North East Autism Society was the nearest source of support we could find. They rescued us, and we’ll be forever grateful.

When he was eight, Euan was given a place in the Carley Hill residential unit, at Thornhill Park School, in Sunderland.

“He was finally given the kind of one-to-one attention that he needed and, from then on, he made huge progress,” said Tony.

Euan continued to be cared for by NEAS, advancing through various units, including Thornhill, Thornholme, Emsworth and – as he moved into adulthood – to Thorndale.

“He was looked after by a very caring, enthusiastic group of men and women, who met all his needs, and worked hard to ensure his life was enjoyable,” said Tony.

The family wished to pay particular tribute to Jackie Herbison, manager of Thorndale when Euan first went there, Dave Wake, who succeeded her, and Deputy Manager Nicola Tarbet.

“Euan made a list of all the staff and was always revisiting it, then telling people about them all. That was an indication of how special they all were to him,” said Tony.

Euan also enjoyed visiting the charity’s workshop at Hendon, and the family still have a garden bench that he helped to make, as well as a coffee table, and planters.

In 2018, due to his condition deteriorating, Euan was taken to a hospital at Newbus Grange, near Darlington, with the intention of returning to NEAS once his medication had been readjusted.

However, a decision was taken for him to live in a flat within a home, run by Lifeways, in the Cockerton area of Darlington. This was when he was diagnosed with cancer.

His mother, Janet, said:

Euan was just a lovely person. He had difficulties, but they didn’t change how lovely he was. He was so loving and affectionate with everyone.

Euan also had an older sister and brother, Alison and Laurie. His funeral will take place at York Crematorium at 12.20pm on March 26, and NEAS will be represented by Dave Wake and Nicola Tarbet. Due to the fact that only 18 people can attend because of Covid-19 restrictions, a webcast has been set up at (user-name zixi9823, password 918942).