EVERY year we launch our annual Christmas campaign, designed not only to raise funds to help us continue delivering our vital frontline services but also to raise awareness of autism and the work they do.

This year's theme was 'All I Want for Christmas' and we focused on the needs and wants of autistic individuals and their families from across the North-east.

As well as highlighting their Christmas wishes - which included shorter diagnosis times, better access to education and more support in employment for autistic people - we also held a series of festive events and encouraged our supporters to fundraise on our behalf.

And so far, from the sale of merchandise, festive events, calendar sales and donations, we have raised an incredible total of £4009.18.

"We've been overwhelmed by the support we've received for our Christmas campaign this year, particularly given the tough 18 months we've all had," says Fundraising Officer Jon Appleton.

Everyone's efforts have been incredible and the funds raised will go a long way in helping us to provide vital support and services to autistic individuals and their families across the North-east.

Throughout December, staff, supporters and those who access our services all came together to make this year's end-of-year campaign a huge success.

On Friday 3rd December, we held our first-ever Great Christmas Bake Off event and invited those who access our services, as well as staff, supporters and the wider public to get involved.

Students from Thornhill Park School, Mackenzie Thorpe Centre, Thornbeck College, adult day services and NEAS Central Services took part in the Bake Off and brought in a range of delicious homemade bakes, from brandy snaps and individual cheesecakes, to muffins and gooey chocolate brownies.

A number of external organisations also supported the events. Pupils from Hurworth School’s Autism Resource Base spent a morning baking and decorating cakes with teacher Helen Whitten, who manages the provision.

Newcastle's Life Science Centre, who have worked closely with the Society over the past three years, also got involved and raised more than £70 in the process.

Our second event on Friday 10th December was our annual Jolly Jumper Day, which saw staff, supporters and the children, young people and adults we support donning their very best (or worst) festive knits for the occasion.

Pupils from our schools got involved with the festivities, as well as adults who access Number 24 Day Services, along with a range of individuals and organisations across the North-east. Chief Constable for Durham Constabulary Jo Farrell showed her support for the event in a striking pink knit, while County Durham and Darlington Fire & Rescue also took part.

Other organisations who pledged their support, and raised funds in the process, include: Darlington Building Society, Feel Flamazing in Low Fell, Hope Street XChange, Jarrow Cross Primary School and Avonmouth Church of England School in Bristol.

Read more fundraising stories