The Champions

We are passionate about changing perceptions about Autism and raising awareness. Our Charity Champions work hard to help us spread the word and are passionate about helping with our mission. Our Charity Champions are valuable and dedicate time and commitment to raising funds and Autism awareness. Below are details about our champions and why we are so lucky to have these extraordinary individuals as part of the team.

Kellie Barker
Kellie Barker

Charity Champion

I am honoured to be selected as a Charity Champion for the Anna Kennedy Online Charity and have supported the Charity since 2018. I have attended charity events that mark amazing people within the community and celebrate talents of people living with Autism.

I am very happy to be welcomed into the AKO family as its made up of very special group of people who are committed to open doors for Autistic People.

Dawn Avery
Dawn Avery

Charity Champion

Dawn Avery is part of the first charity champion couples and covers the Essex region.

Dawn first become involved with Anna Kennedy Online in May 2015 when her son Aston took part in Autism’s Got Talent. Dawn said “It was a time I would not change for anyone as he really embraced his Autism from the very moment we become involved. We were made to feel a welcome part of the team.

We have held a number of Autistic & proud events for the charity including supporting the Essex, The AKO Celebrity football match and the AGT roadshow in Essex. We continue to come up with various ventures to support this amazing charity”

Dawn wrote From a tear to here – an Autism family's journey which tells the story of Dawn Avery’s, our Charity Champion and her family’s pathway, living with autism and ill health.

It documents how it affected each of her family and not just her son Aston. It gives an insight into a journey that many would not understand. Dawn was so lucky to have the help of Michael Barnard- Editor and The Michel Barnard charitable trust- the sponsor.

All proceeds will go to Anna Kennedy Online!

Click here to order your copy!

Jo Wiggins
Jo Wiggins

Charity Champion

After Jo’s daughter Lauren took part in Autism’s Got Talent in 2014, she quickly became very aware of how much AKO helped people and started helping out at various events and loved seeing the joy these experiences brought to people.

Jo Said “Anna asked if I would be a charity champion and I can honestly say I have never looked back!

I did my first fundraiser with a local Christmas light charity and from there I have acquired new skills I never thought I had in me. Talking in schools and press calls, talking on radio, being involved in any PR for the charity, and so many other things!

My greatest achievement within the charity was being responsible alongside Anna for the release of our first charity album. This was launched at London’s Hard Rock Cafe and the end result was amazing and one of the highs of my life. I do get lots of messages from people locally that know of my involvement with the charity and I love the fact that I am now able to help others with my knowledge.

When you see me you will always see my girl Lauren (patron of AKO) and my little girl Lucy (AKO’s mascot).”

Andi
Andi

Charity Champion

Andi and his husband Darren are parents to two children by adoption. Their children are ages 6 and 3.

Prior to becoming a parent, Andi has previously worked in schools and for the local authority. Andi has a background of working within Children's Services and Safeguarding.

Since becoming a parent, Andi has become heavily involved in advocating for the Adoption and SEN communities. He also provides peer support for LGBT+ and SEN parents & families.

Andi is a regular on the BBC Tiny Happy People channel and has also worked with organisations and charities including; Amnesty International, Unicef UK, Best Beginnings, Ready Eddie Go!, The Modern Family Show, Mobiquip, Toy Mania and many more.

You can currently hear Andi on the 'My Two Dads Adoption Podcast'

Andi is also the Safeguarding Lead for the Autism Allotments project.

Andi says “I am thrilled to be joining Anna and her wonderful team. For many years, I have admired the fantastic work that the Anna Kennedy Online does and cannot wait to be able to contribute to this, please do make contact if you think I can be of help to you or your family”.

Keith Avery
Keith Avery

Charity Champion

Keith is the other part of the Essex charity champion couple. Keith and Dawn’s son Aston was offered to be an Ambassador for Anna Kennedy online, his Autistic & Proud fundraisers were then made for the charity.

Keith said “We had always fund raised for various charities but this one deserved us to go that extra mile.

We are always looking for other ideas to raise funds but more importantly autism awareness in the Essex area”

Richard Stevens
Richard Stevens

Charity Champion

I am Rich from Milton Keynes, I am a husband and father and I am on the autism spectrum. This has been only a recent diagnosis, coming in adult life after a few years of thinking that this could be the case. I have two sons and my youngest son is also on the autism spectrum and I started to think about how he can be understood and how he can understand the world better.

In September 2020, I began a podcast called Inside the Orange, where I talked about the importance of understanding other people. As the podcast developed, I spoke to people from different backgrounds and they told their story in the hope of inspiring others. I was fortunate enough to meet Anna Kennedy, who had a petition about who would look after her children when she was no longer around, and I asked if she would talk about it on the podcast. We spoke about her charity and what it does and I wanted to help support it!

Alongside the podcast, we started our Walk for Autism challenge walks, which are now in their 3rd year. These included walking 81+ miles in one weekend for AnnaKennedyOnline. We continue to do this for the charity, and our current target is 365 miles in 12 walks by the end of 2023.

I want to continue to support AnnaKennedyOnline and help raise awareness, acceptance and support inclusion of autism in work and schools.

I want to help change the lives of autistic people and their families. I have always wanted autism to be understood better and I want to help people, schools and businesses to and be able to promote inclusion. I will continue to raise money for the charity, talking about it at every opportunity and supporting autistic people in my community and beyond by role modeling that we can achieve what we want to. I can share the messages through the podcast, social media and support community events. I have also disclosed my diagnosis to my employer, Lifetime Training, who are actively supporting me with fundraising and supporting autistic people around our business. The best thing I can bring to the role is a passion to help people understand autism and help people with autism understand the world.