At the culmination of week two in world autism acceptance month the North East Autism Society's annual Walk for Autism saw its largest turn out to date. 


More than 500 people turned out to Herrington Country Park to spread a message of autism acceptance to our region - in the shadows of Penshaw Monument which had been illuminated in gold in support of our campaign. 


And as well as baby shark dances, photos with our mascots, face-painting, food trucks, tennis, picnic zones, egg rolling, a toddle track and our one-mile circuit we also had the privilege of welcoming Lyndon Longhorne to officially cut the gold ribbon and start the walk. 


The paralympic gold-medal winning swimmer took time out of his training to welcome walkers, pose for pics and support our campaign. 


Thanks to BGL sponsoring our Team Tent, families were also able to access help and guidance from our family development team on site. We even had 30 volunteers from BGL, NPower and Doosan dishing out cream eggs, donated by various supermarkets across the North-east, and certificates for those taking part. 


Prizes were also welcomed for those in the best gold-themed outfit, for those who pre registered and a wealth of chocolate coins were available from the route's chocolate stations.


A Society spokesperson said: "It was our best walk so far - and for lots of reasons we hit the jackpot this year! Why? Because we stepped away from a narrative of autism being this blue, negative, 'disability' to us choosing to go for gold; aspirational, of value, of worth and accepted. Do we have a lot of work to do? Yes. Are we there yet? No. are we just getting started? Absolutely! 


"Thank you to everyone who took part, who raised funds for our free lifeline services, who dressed in gold and who made this event the incredible, powerful, supportive, accepting day that it was."