Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Our guest on “All things Autism” Radio was Kirsten Giles CEO MedicAlert

Our guest on “All things Autism” Radio was Kirsten Giles CEO MedicAlert

Our guest on “All things Autism” Radio was Kirsten Giles CEO MedicAlert

Anna Kennedy’s guest on ‘All things Autism’ was Kirsten Giles CEO MedicAlert, please click here to listen to these amazing shows!


Kirsten joined MedicAlert in 2017 and leveraged her 27 years’ experience in the private sector to take over the helm at MedicAlert, after being drawn to an organisation where the primary focus is to help people within society who are medically vulnerable rather than a company solely focused on profits.

Her career started in IBM as a graduate recruit and after 17 years there she took a few years off when her two boys were young. She then worked in the city in asset finance for about 7 years and then took a COO role in telecoms. She loves the fact that in a charity, income is another resource not the main objective.

Driven by the objective to grow membership, ensure the charity is sustainable and also making sure MedicAlert is a great place to work for its employees, Kirsten has proven her ability to deliver the company objectives and communicate the importance of medical ID tags, whilst providing the organisations services to as many people as possible.

Kirsten is determined to continue raising the profile of MedicAlert and is spearheading an initiative to secure sponsors to provide medical IDs to those who need the service but are not fortunate enough to have access.

Kirsten is delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Anna, helping increase awareness of autism and the role MedicAlert can play in assisting individuals to lead a more active and fulfilled life, boosting both their physical and mental wellbeing.

Please click here to read the case study for Jaimie.

MedicAlert are funding fifty free memberships as they would like to help many more people living with autism. Click here for more details.

About Kirsten

What do you do at MedicAlert?
My role at MedicAlert is Chief Executive. This provides me with a view across the whole organisation and a chance to influence direction and improve the service we are able to provide to our members. I have tried to put MedicAlert members at the heart of everything we do and how we work.

How do you think your colleagues would describe you?
I hope they find me supportive and helpful. I suspect they may dread the phrase ‘ I have just had an idea ’

What do you like about working at MedicAlert?
We have a fantastic team and the work we do is so important to our members. It is so gratifying when we hear from members about how important the MedicAlert ID service is to them, how safe and confident it makes them feel and what activities and interests they now feel able to enjoy.

What is something in your industry that you have to deal with that you want to fix?
There is not enough awareness of how a simple thing like a medical ID backed by a reputable service can improve lives. Paramedics and other medical professionals in emergencies love them and medical IDs increase the peace of mind of the wearers and their families. About a third of the population in the UK has a medical condition or concern; medical ID wearing should be much more commonplace to keep everyone safe and allow them to lead fulfilling lives.

Outside work I enjoy:
Walking in the countryside. We lost our 15-year-old Labrador, Humphrey, recently and walking hasn’t been quite the same since.
I have a rowing machine which I like using. It is a chance to switch off a bit and pretend I am on a lake. I just need to remember to pace myself and keep breathing.
My grandma taught me how to knit and so I have knitted quite a few things over the years. During lockdown I learned how to knit socks, a strangely satisfying and addictive passtime. After all you can never have too many socks, or so I keep telling my family….not sure they agree!

Favourite film/TV series:
My favourite film is The Thomas Crown Affair – (Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo). I also loved Avatar and am looking forward to the sequels.

Favourite tipple:
Definitely a Gin and tonic (ice and lemon – very traditional!)

Autism show – April 2022

Autism show – April 2022

Autism show – April 2022

This month is Autism Awareness Month and this month’s autism show highlighted autism awareness month and looked back on World Autism Day which was on 2nd April. Aston and regular contributor Anna Kennedy OBE spoke all things autism in Essex including looking at what autism charity Anna Kennedy Online have lined this year, along with news within the autism community and speaking to great guests.

Click here to hear the full show!

Our guest on “All things Autism” Radio was Aston Avery

Our guest on “All things Autism” Radio was Aston Avery

Our guest on “All things Autism” Radio was Aston Avery

Anna Kennedy’s guest on ‘All things Autism’ was Aston Avery, please click here to listen to these amazing shows!

About Aston Martin Avery

Diagnosed with autism at two and a half, his family were told there was a strong possibility that he would be taken into residential care for his adverse behaviours. It was also suggested that Aston would be a selective mute.

His behaviour was so extreme that the family were confined to the house. At four and a half Aston underwent the first of numerous operations for bowel problems and was schooled for long periods of time at Guys Hospital in London. He was later diagnosed with a condition called entero-colitis a form of Crohn’s disease. Aston suffered with another condition called pica which meant he would eat and digest inedible objects.

At age ten Aston underwent an ace stoma procedure. The procedure meant his appendix were removed and a passage formed from his tummy through to his bowel, this would allow a tube to feed through to his bowel to inject stimulants.

Aston was to suffer further problems, the first stimulant sent Aston into anaphylaxis shock, and he became extremely poorly. The doctors decided to attempt other medications, but unfortunately, he had the same extreme reaction. Aston was to be diagnosed with Anaphylaxis to many medications. This meant that the tube was inserted through his tummy into the bowel every 48 hours and connected to a saline bag.

Due to the severity of the anaphylaxis Aston must always carry an epi-pen. A slight infection will require a hospital visit to find medication that will not affect his health. At eleven and a half Aston had to undergo a full colostomy bag for his bowel disease.

Aston has despite all this managed to achieve ISTD grades in Dance and Drama. He loves to sing; he is what you would call an all-round entertainer! Aston went on to pass his level one in sign language and to enrol with support on a mainstream performing arts course where he passed his B-Tec first at a merit and a pass in a National Diploma for performing arts.

Aston Avery

Aston won the 2012 Pride of Essex award for overcoming adversity and from there has begun to blossom as a disc jockey. He has assisted in DJ roles for numerous charity events raising in excess of £80,000.00.

He will tell you himself he has been so fortunate to meet such lovely people along his journey. He volunteers daily for a local radio station where he now has his own daily radio show.

He was lucky enough to be awarded the Princess Diana award in 2015 for his volunteering which has shown just how far he has come. Going onto win The National Diversity award for Positive Role Model with a disability in 2016.

Since his performance at Autisms Got Talent in 2015 his life has taken a dramatic turn for the better, he has grown in both self-esteem and in confidence.

He was granted a scholarship through AKO and pineapple to attend a yearlong course at Pineapple performing arts.

The scholarship and local dance school La Danse Fantastique has seen a once very unassuming and obvious autistic young man blossom.

The change in Aston has been overwhelming; he is much happier and so accepting of his autism.

The honour of becoming an ambassador for a charity so close to his heart is by far up there with his greatest achievements. Aston has also with the help of his parents formed Teamaveryessex where he uses his fundraising skills to gift back to the local community.

He assists other charities in raising funds and with Astons pamper project to date they have gifted pamper packages to more than fifty local heroes. He takes a short film not groups and schools called This Is Me, helping to raise autism acceptance. Somehow, he still finds the time to keep active and dances 6 days per week.

His connection with AKO and the team means he can say “My name is Aston Avery; I AM AUTISTIC & I AM PROUD”!!

Aston’s social links:

Links for Team Avery Essex:


Our guest on “All things Autism” Radio was Claris Mbeng

Our guest on “All things Autism” Radio was Claris Mbeng

Our guest on “All things Autism” Radio was Claris Mbeng

Anna Kennedy’s guest on ‘All things Autism’ at 1pm on Saturday and Sunday is Claris Mbeng Founder of Can Abilities and mother to a young man on the autistic spectrum. Please click here to listen to these amazing shows!

Claris Angafor Aka AC Mbeng is an Award-winning Inspirational Speaker, Author, Autism Ambassador/Advocate, Philanthropist and Talk Show Host.

Her advocacy journey is a product of her experiences. Among her three children – two boys and a girl, life still found her worthy of parenting a child with unique abilities. Because her elder son is autistic, she found pleasure in understanding everything about autism from personal experience and studying a postgraduate in autism and Asperger’s.

With all these experiences over the years, she has been using the knowledge and skills gained to teach and support other parents of autistic/special needs children to be able to not only conquer the fears that come with parenting special needs children but to be able to thrive inspire of the challenges

In her role as an autism Ambassador and given the invisible nature of the condition, she also educates the society on autism awareness and Acceptance thereby encouraging love, understanding, acceptance and inclusion for all affected by autism and other forms of disability.

She believes so much in treating each individual as a unique personality and breaking all barriers and stereotypes surrounding persons living with autism.

This, she does through her charity, CAN Abilities Foundation, click here for more details.

What Harvey did next – BBC Sussex radio interview with Anna

What Harvey did next – BBC Sussex radio interview with Anna

What Harvey did next – BBC Sussex radio interview with Anna

A follow up on the BBC Documentary “What Harvey did next”

I was so pleased to see that Harvey Price our charity Ambassador is settling into his new college and working on his independent living skills.

Harvey is such a sweet soul I know how hard it was for his mum Katie to leave Harvey at Star College.

I do believe, as does as does his mum and family – that Harvey is in the right place and he has made a lovely friend in Lucy. 

The AKO family is proud of you Harvey Price.

My interview on BBC Sussex is at One hour and thirty eight minutes in:

Anna Kennedy OBE

Autism show – March 2022

Autism show – March 2022

Autism show – March 2022

This month’s autism show saw Aston Avery and Anna Kennedy OBE discuss the latest news regarding autism charity Annakennedyonline and also all things autism. 

Anna shared “I was happy to be back in the Gateway studio with Aston for the March edition of ‘All things Autism in Essex.  Our first guests today were one of my charity ambassadors Tess Eagle Swan alongside Lynne Barrett-Lee who is a best selling Author and novelist for The Sunday Times.. Tess lives in Cambridgeshire with her dogs, she is mother to 2 and has 1 grandchild. We first met Tess when her and Kratu performed on Autism’s got Talent in London.

Tess and Lynne co wrote the book Incredible Kratu – Kratu won the hearts of the nation when he went rogue at Crufts! The amazing book is out for sale on Monday and the link to purchase is here”

Click here to hear more

Radio coverage