A huge congratulations to Dr Virginia Bovell OBE who won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Autistic Society Professionals Awards!

A well deserved recognition for a formidable campaigner and activist and all round wonderful person.


Virginia is a long-term member of Centre 404, who continues to support us on our Housing Committee and Family Carer Recruitment Panels.


Here pictured with her son Danny, “the inspiration for anything I’ve done”.


Virginia was presented with her award by the evening’s hosts: Jane Asher and Carly Jones MBE. Jane, who is President of the National Autistic Society, is an actor, writer and businesswoman; Carly is an autism advocate and presenter. They handed out 13 awards for individuals and organisations, covering education, health, social care, employment, and volunteering.

Virginia shortlisted by an independent panel of autism specialists, who were looking for high standards of innovation, creativity, impact and sustainability. By celebrating their achievements, the National Autistic Society hopes to increase public understanding of autism and inspire other people and organisations to make a difference too.

There are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. If you’re autistic, you tend to find communication difficult and can feel intense anxiety in social situations, when something unexpected happens or when you’re not given enough time to process questions and instructions.

Every autistic person is different and will have their own strengths and challenges. Some autistic people might need 24-hour care; other people may need clearer communication or a little longer to do things at school or work. Without the right support or understanding, autistic people can miss out on an education, struggle to find work and become extremely isolated.


Virginia said during her speech how “all my work for autism relates to Danny’s lifetime, not my own, and so really it’s his award”.


Carol Povey, Director of the National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, said: “A lot of our work is focused on campaigning for better support and services and highlighting the huge inequalities autistic people and their families continue to face.

“As part of this, it’s also important to recognise the talented and passionate people who are making a difference right now – across so many sectors, from education, to employment and social care.

“The sheer range of expertise of our winners and finalists is staggering. By celebrating their achievements and sharing their stories, I hope we can inspire other people and organisations to follow their lead and help us to create a society that works for autistic people.

“Congratulations to all our winners and finalists.”


Full list of winners


Awards for individuals


Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Dr Virginia Bovell OBE


Achievement by an Individual Education Professional


Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum


Most Inspirational Volunteer


Outstanding Healthcare Professional


Someone who ‘changed my life’

  • Hazel Lim, Chinese In Autism Support Group, Chinese in Wales Association


Awards for teams


Inspirational Education Provision – Primary and younger


Inspirational Education Provision – Secondary and further


Outstanding Adult or Children’s Services – Health or Social Care


Innovative Family Support


Outstanding Employer


Most Creative Community Project


Most Impactful Researcher


Find out more about autism, the Autism Professionals Awards and the Professionals Conference by visiting www.autism.org.uk/professionals