HRH The Countess of Wessex to open our North East Centre for Autism The Countess of Wessex will tour our North East Centre for Autism and meet staff, students, sponsors, trustees and parents who founded our charity in 1980. The vision behind the centre that opened in January 2013 was to improve the range of specialist services available across the region for children, young people and adults with autism. The centre houses a new purpose built school, college, short breaks and residential accommodation. Her Royal Highness will have the opportunity to meet families who access our centre including a visit to see our toddler group, short breaks, school and college facilities.John Phillipson, CEO for NEAS said; “We are delighted to invite The Countess of Wessex to Newton Aycliffe to see our centre and to meet some of the families that we support. The visit will provide us with an opportunity to raise awareness about autism, but also to showcase some of the highly specialist work that we do and the benefits of this for children and young people.We have gradually increased our range of services, as we have been able to refurbish some existing buildings on the site. We are currently raising funds to refurbish the last of these buildings so we can train young people in a range of vocational environments."Once complete, in early January 2015, the building will provide additional teaching space for Thornbeck College. This will enable the college, which is rated outstanding by Ofsted, to provide more vocational courses, including car maintenance, catering and woodwork, along with the existing subjects floristry, textiles and hairdressing. Her Royal Highness will unveil a plaque commemorating the visit before a wide variety of people who were involved in the development of the centre or who currently use our services.