South Shields restaurant owner backs autism charity

A South Shields restaurant owner whose daughter has autism has put his backing behind a charity which supports both adults and children with the disability

Titu Akthar with a representative of the North East Autism Society
Titu Akthar with a representative of the North East Autism Society

A restaurant owner whose daughter has autism has put his backing behind a charity which supports both adults and children with the disability.

Titu Akthar of Orangegrass Thai & Oriental Cuisine and his wife, Lubna, 36, were left not knowing what to do after their three-year-old daughter was diagnosed with the condition.

Akthar said: “It was a big shock when Jasmin was diagnosed after undergoing a number of tests two and a half years ago. We started looking to the internet and that’s how we found out about the North East Autism Society.”

To show his support for the charity, Akthar set to work organising a special fundraising charity evening.

The event was held at Orangegrass Thai & Oriental Cuisine, in Mount Terrace, South Shields on Sunday.

Guests were welcomed with a Champagne reception before being treated to a traditional Thai buffet, Thai dance routines and local band The Alibis performed after which they donated their fee to the charity. The evening ended with a disco.

Akthar, who lives with his family in High Heaton, Newcastle, said: “Our aim for the evening was to raise awareness of the charity and also to share our support with our customers and guests during the evening.

“It is with great pleasure I announce that we raised a phenomenal £1,012 and I hope that our endorsement will provoke change as well as persuade others to do the same.”

The cash raised by Orangegrass will now help complete a £9m pound North East centre for people with autism in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. The first phase of the new centre opened its doors in the new year and features a purpose-built school with sports hall and swimming pool, short break and residential accommodation, as well as family support and outreach services. It is hoped the centre will be officially opened in spring next year.

Akthar added: “Although Jasmin is too young to get help at the moment at the centre, we decided to support it because it is a cause close to our hearts and we will be able to use the centre in the future as she gets older.”

The North East Autism Society (NEAS) was set up more than 30 years ago and provides services for children, families and adults affected by autism.

Autism is a disability that can have a catastrophic effect on the sufferer unless the right support and intervention is provided.

The charity helps in educating children aged between four and 19, providing vocational training and open employment opportunities for adults, as well as residential care and supported living.

Events fundraiser for the North East Autism Society, Sally Squires said: “Titu and his staff have done an amazing job – it was a brilliant evening with great food, dancing and a really welcoming atmosphere.

“It is with this community support that we are able to continue our valuable work with families living with Autism throughout the North East.”

Akthar added: “The North East Autism Society is a charity which lies very closely to the heart of not only me and my family, but those of the staff here at Orangegrass too.”

“It means a lot to us to be associated with them and we truly look forward to doing our bit to support them.

“Our event was a massive success and we hope to do another soon - possibly a sporting event!”

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