One of the goals of Autism Acceptance Week is to highlight and celebrate some of the amazing autistic people in our world.

So the Great Minds Historic Walking Tour was going to tick all the boxes.

Not only was it going to be led by the incredible Alexander Iles , who is himself autistic.

And not only would it delve into the history of some of the brilliant neurodiverse brains who engineered and built one of the north’s greatest cities but it would also provide an opportunity to take our message of autism acceptance onto the streets of Newcastle during #autismacceptance week.

Win win!

Then coronavirus hit the UK.

Thinking quick, we set about moving as much of our Autism Acceptance campaign online as possible, building a new

And as luck would have it, we managed to film the tour before the lockdown.

It’s of course only a measure of how good the tour is normally, and Alex only had a few days to pull his material together so we could film, but we’re sure you’ll agree that it’s nothing short of brilliant. 

We asked Alex why he was keen to support the North East Autism Society in this way.

He said: “I was diagnosed autistic at a young age and was fortunate enough to attend a school which provided education for people with all forms of what we now call neurodiversity so I was able to achieve in my work and exams as well as develop life-long friendships with people from all over the world!

“I have been involved with NEAS since the launch of its Employment Futures service, where I spoke on my experience of self-employment and encouraged employers to consider autistic people as a great option for staff within their businesses. Since then I have advocated for NEAS as a fantastic north east charity.”

Throughout the tour – and on the accompanying tour map – you will see beautiful drawings of some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. These were created by the young people in our Autism Activists art group. 

Alex added: “The film you are about to watch gives you a taste of the people who came from Newcastle and have added to the story of the city. There are characters who do stand out though. When we look at them, their worlds and their lives, we can get a fantastic picture of the human experience and an idea of how we want to build our world today. I hope that by introducing you to these people it will get you to think and to look at how you consider how you interact with autism, neurodiversity and people around you.”

To download the Great Minds Virtual Tour Map click hereGreat Minds Virtual Tour Map