For 10 years they’ve been creating a home from home for children with autism.

Now, Wallingford – or ‘Wally’ as it’s known – is celebrating a milestone anniversary like no other.

For thanks to the efforts of Kayley Percy, one of the team based at the Sunderland home, a Where’s Wally-themed day even saw home manager, Deborah Fleetham, take to the stocks!

Deb explained:

It’s a great achievement to be celebrating our 10th anniversary but the party itself was really all down to Kayley. She based it all around Where’s Wally – which the staff and kids love – and she even worked with our maintenance team to get me in these stocks!

Just one of the North East Autism Society’s children’s residential homes, Wallingford’s most recent Oftsed report rated the home as outstanding, a judgement shared by parents, families and children alike.

Bradley Black, 12, from Sunderland has been at Wallingford since September 2016. It was a difficult time for the family when Bradley started at Wallingford, but a year on and they can’t believe the progress he’s made.

Wallingford 10th Birthday celebrations

Veronica Fairlie, Nana said:

We’ve got our little boy back. The difference in my grandson Bradley is amazing. The team have done wonders, he’s like a different young boy. He’s achieving so much at Wallingford and is doing real life skills. He is more loving and he is happy. What more could we ask for.

I’ll be honest, we never wanted this; the thought of him going into care broke our hearts, but a year down the line we have no regrets, it’s the best thing we could have done. He’s happy, independent and quite the little character. I’m a proud nana. I couldn’t speak more highly of Wallingford or the North East Autism Society.

Throughout the day families visited the garden party where a bouncy castle, birthday cake, craft area and photo booth with Where’s wally hats, were enjoyed.

Kayley also researched the names of previous staff members and residents to create a hall of fame in the home.

Deb added:

I’m really blessed to have the team I have who would go over and above like this to make sure our special day is marked as such. We have team here who have been working at Wallingford since the very beginning and others who are newer but just bring so much to the table.

The greatest joy for me though, is looking around on a day like this and knowing that we really have made a difference; that children’s lives have been changed because of our hard work and dedication.

Attending the birthday bash were Leonnie, Jamie, and Bradley who live in the home, alongside their families.

John Phillipson, chief executive officer for the North East Autism Society, said:

What an absolutely brilliant day. I’m over the moon seeing the children and families responding to such a well-planned and thoroughly enjoyable time. It’s a credit to the team at Wallingford who really are outstanding.