Patrons of Research Autism

Jane Asher

Jane Asher, patron of Research AutismI first became involved with the National Autistic Society over 20 years ago, and have been President for almost half that time. My interest in autism sprung from an encounter, at a charity event, with a group of children on the spectrum at a time when I had heard of the condition but had no clear idea what it involved. I was lucky enough to have my first explanation from Lorna Wing, and very quickly became intrigued and deeply interested in this very complex disorder.

My professional career is that of an actress, and, obviously, anyone with any kind of public name is asked to help countless deserving causes. Autism, however, continues to be the main focus of my voluntary work, and one with which I am proud to be associated.

Over the years, I have become increasingly distressed at the mis-information and confusion surrounding the implications of autism and, especially, the possible interventions and "miracle cures" on offer, which is why I particularly welcome the work of Research Autism.

Lady Astor of Hever

Lady Astor of Hever, patron of Research AutismI was born Elizabeth Mackintosh, a daughter of Viscount Mackintosh of Halifax, a director of Mackintosh's, the family toffee firm. I grew up in Norfolk and Newcastle-on-Tyne and was educated at Harrogate College in Yorkshire followed by a year at finishing school in Switzerland.

I spent two years modelling before training to become a teacher, as I wished to teach and work with disabled children. Later, as a divorced mother with a daughter for seven years, I worked in Special Events, PR and Executive Search before remarrying, gaining three step-daughters and having two more children, the last of which is autistic and dyspraxic. Thus began my interest and passion for fund and awareness raising for charities involved in helping those with autism and ADHD, which my eldest daughter has.

I wrote my story, published in May this year, called "Loving Olivia" about bringing up my two daughters. I am patron of various charities for autism, ADHD and dyspraxia and also for local charities ranging from amateur dramatics to the local town band! I live in Kent and am currently working on a novel and a fundraising event at the Albert Hall next May and a cycling trip in Thailand in January.

Professor Gillian Baird OBE, Guy's and St.Thomas' NHS Trust

Professor Gillian Baird OBE, patron of Research AutismGillian is a paediatrician and has led the neurodisability clinical service at the Newcomen Centre for Developmental Medicine at Guy's Hospital in London for a number of years, which has a high reputation for the work that it does with families, and for the way in which a clinical service has been combined with academic research.

Since 1994, Gillian has participated in a large number of research studies, both as a collaborator and principal investigator. Her research has been driven by the desire to answer clinical questions that will be of benefit to children with disabilities and their families. The nature of Gillian's work in neurodisability dictates that the research is entirely clinically-based. Her research interests and publications have been wide-ranging across the field of paediatric neurodisability, including children with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, language disorder and developmental coordination disorder. She has also worked on the development of instruments for screening and diagnosis of autism and related disorders which have informed national policies. Together with colleagues she has led two large cohort studies, in autism (SNAP) and in cerebral palsy (SH&PE), both unique because they are population representative and can form the basis of ongoing research into transition to adult life.

Gillian is Chair of the British Academy of Childhood Disability; chairs the NICE guideline on autism in children and young people and is on the guideline development group of the Adult NICE ASD guideline. She has a chair in paediatric Neurodisability at King's College London and is also on the working groups for neurodevelopmental disorders for the DSM-5 and ICD11. Gillian was awarded an OBE in 2011 for her services to medicine at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London.

Rt. Hon. John Bercow M.P., Speaker of the House of Commons

Rt. Hon. John Bercow M.P., Speaker of the House of Commons and patron of Research AutismFrom 1986 to 1987, John served as National Chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students, and in 1987 he was appointed by Norman Tebbit as Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Collegiate Forum to head the campaign for student support in the run-up to the 1987 general election.

He became a Conservative councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth in 1986 (until 1990) and serving from 1987 to 1989 as deputy leader of the 21 strong Conservative Opposition Group. At the time John was the youngest deputy group leader in the country. He stood as Conservative candidate in Motherwell South in 1987 and for Bristol South in 1992. 1n 1995, John was appointed Special Adviser to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and later served as special Adviser to the Secretary of State for National Heritage.

In June 1999, he was appointed Front Bench Spokesman for Education & Employment. In July 2000, he was appointed Front Bench Spokesman for Home Affairs. In September 2001, he was appointed Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. From July 2002 to November 2002, he was Shadow Minister for Work & Pensions. From November 2003 to September 2004, he was Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.

He has been a member of the International Development Select Committee since November 2004. He is co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Burma, vice-Chair of the All Party Groups on the Prevention of Genocide, Africa and Sudan. He is also Secretary of the All Party Group on Human Rights. In July 2005, John established the All Party Group on Brain Tumours to raise awareness of issues surrounding brain tumour care.

In September 2007, John was appointed by Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, to lead a review of services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs. The final report of the Review was published in July 2008.

John was appointed to the Speaker's Conference on Parliamentary Representation in November 2008. The Conference has been asked to consider, and make recommendations for rectifying, the disparity between the representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in the House of Commons and their representation in the UK population at large. The Conference has until the end of the Parliament to conduct its inquiries.

In November 1998, John was given the award of Backbencher to Watch in The Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year Awards. In February 2005, in a ballot of his parliamentary colleagues, he won the Channel Four/Hansard Society Political Award for Opposition MP of the Year for 2005. In December 2005, John was voted the Backbencher of the Year in The House Magazine awards. John was named Health/International Champion of the Year at the Charity Champion Awards 2007.

His most recent publications include, Incoming Assets: why Tories should change policy on immigration and asylum (Social Market Foundation, October 2005) and Promote Freedom or Protect Oppressors: the choice at the UN Review Summit (Foreign Policy Centre, September 2005).

Research Autism is the only UK charity whose sole focus is to evaluate and conduct scientific research into autism interventions. Research has to be the starting point if we are better to understand this complex condition, and it is for this very reason I chose to support them as patron. The charity is committed to a programme of ground breaking research that is important to the autism community and that will improve quality of life and support social inclusion; something to which I believe every UK citizen has the right.

Lord Clement-Jones of Clapham

Lord Clement-Jones of Clapham, patron of Research AutismI was born in Wales in 1949 and was educated at Haileybury and then Trinity College Cambridge, where I read economics and law. After my degree I did my articles at Coward Chance (now Clifford Chance).

After working as a volunteer at the North Kensington Law Centre I joined the Streatham Liberal Association (1973) and then went on to be their ward organiser. I was Chairman of the Liberal Party 1986-1988 and played a significant part in the merger negotiations with the SDP to form the Liberal Democrats.

In 1998 I became a Peer and was the Party's health spokesman in the Lords until 2004. I am now Lib Dem spokesperson in the Lords for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

I am Vice Chairman of the All Party Autism Group and the All Party China China Group. I am also the Federal Treasurer of the Liberal Democrats.

I have also been Chairman of Crime Concern and a Council Member of the London Lighthouse and am a Trustee of Cancerbackup, the cancer information charity founded by my late wife Dr Vicky Clement-Jones and Chairman of Treehouse the autism education charity and Lambeth Crime Prevention Trust.

I married Jean in 1994 and we have a son Harry, born on March 1st 1998. My outside interests include cinema, travel, running and modern art.

Baroness Browning of Tiverton

Baroness Browning of Tiverto, patron of Research AutismI was the Member of Parliament for Tiverton and Honiton, and was elected to Parliament in 1992. I was currently a Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, with responsibility for Party organisation and campaigning.

I served as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons & Constitutional Affairs from September 2000 to September 2001. From 2001 to 2003, I was a Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party.

Previously I was a Sales and Training Manager at GEC Hotpoint from 1976 to 1986. I was the Advisor to the Department of Employment on Women Employment, and from 1985-1992, I was a Self-employed Management Consultant specialising in corporate communication training.

I am a Specialist Counsellor to the National Autistic Society, and Vice-President to the Alzheimer's Disease Society. I am married with two adult sons.

Sir Roger Gibbs

Sir Roger Gibbs is also a patron of Research Autism.

Baroness Linklater of Butterstone

Baroness Linklater of Butterstone, patron of Research AutismI have a background in social work having qualified as a Child Care Officer in the late '60s. Having worked with prisoners' families and been involved in starting the first Visitors Centre at Pentonville prison, I went on to start up the Butler Trust, which administers the Prison Service Annual Award Scheme, which recognises best practice by people working in the prison services of the UK.

In 1991 I founded the New School, Butterstone, in Perthshire, for 'Educationally Fragile' children. The school itself, and the wider issues of catering for children who do not cope or thrive in mainstream education are another central interest for me. This involves me in issues concerning further education, inclusion (and what it means), and the future of vulnerable and fragile children and young people, whether they have learning difficulties or are in trouble. We cater for a range of needs including children on the autistic spectrum, with Asperger syndrome, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and a range of mild to moderate learning difficulties.

I was a member of the Beattie Committee, which made recommendations on Post School Provision for Young People with Special Needs in Scotland, and a member of the Scottish Committee, Barnardos, 2001-04.

I was created a Life Peer in 1997 and I speak on criminal justice matters with special references to young people, and special educational needs in the House of Lords.

I am, amongst others, a Patron of a number of organisations concerned with young people and families. I also chair an initiative funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation of which I am a Trustee, called Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

I am glad to be a Patron of Research Autism as it chimes closely with the work we do at The New School, and also my interest in those families and young people affected by autism.

Baroness Prashar of Runnymede

Baroness Prashar of Runnymede, patron of Research AutismI am a cross bench member of the House of Lords. Since the 1970s, I have served as a director or chairman of a variety of public and private sector organisations.

I was was a director of the Runnymede Trust from 1976 to 1984, a fellow with the Policy Studies Institute from 1984 to 1986, and a director of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations from 1986 to 1991. I was executive chairman of the Parole Board of England and Wales from October 1997 to October 2000. Having been appointed a Civil Service Commissioner in 1990, I was First Civil Service Commissioner from August 2000 to 2005. I was chairman of the National Literacy Trust from 2001 to 2005.

I was a non-executive director of Channel Four Television from 1992 to 1999, of Unite Group plc from 2001 to 2004, and became a non-executive director of ITV plc in February 2005. I became a governor of De Montfort University in 1996, and became its Chancellor in 2001. I became a trustee of the BBC World Service Trust in 2002, and am chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Professor Fred Volkmar MD

Professor Fred Volkmar, patron of Research AutismI am the Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology and Director of the Yale University Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine and the Chief of Child Psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, CT. I graduated from the University of Illinois where I received in undergraduate degree in psychology in 1972 and of Stanford University where I received my MD and a master's degree in psychology in 1976.

I was the primary author of the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV autism and pervasive developmental disorders section and have authored several hundred scientific papers and chapters as well as a number of books including Asperger's Syndrome (Guilford Press), Health Care for Children on the Autism Spectrum (Woodbine Publishing), and the Handbook of Autism (Wiley Publishing).

I have served as an associate editor of the Journal of Autism, the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and the American Journal of Psychiatry and will be the editor of the Journal of Autism beginning in 2007.

I have served as co-chairperson of the autism/intellectual disabilities committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In addition to directing the internationally known autism clinic I also served as director of autism research at Yale and the principal investigator of three program project grants including a CPEA (Collaborative Program of Excellent in Autism) grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and a STAART (Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment) Autism Center Grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Lord Christopher Wakehurst

Lord Christopher Wakehurst, patron of Research AutismAfter school in England and Australia, service during WWII with the Royal Australian Navy in the Pacific Area and a law degree at Trinity College, Cambridge, I began a career in fund management and banking.

In 1956 I married and have a son and daughter, our son developing behaviour which was eventually diagnosed as being autistic. This led to friendship and cooperation with other parents and the start of an association in 1962 which became the National Autistic Society. At that time a prevalent and very harmful opinion was lack of parental love and affection - the refrigerator mother.

In 1997 I started the Inge Wakehurst Trust to provide information about autism to interested professionals by means of study weekends organised by the Trust and also to explain the methods which we had found contributed to progress determined teaching and training from an early age. The Trust is now associated with Research Autism.

I have been concerned with autism and Asperger's syndrome for nearly fifty years. My current involvement includes the Inge Wakehurst Trust as founder and trustee, Research Autism as former trustee and now patron, the Bromley Autistic Trust and the Tree House Trust, both as a patron.

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25 Oct 2017