Wonderful thing about Tiggers

Blackpool Tiggers, St Annes Road, Blackpool. Nine year old Jonathan Hamilton and Tiggers project co-ordinator Sheila Cullinane.

Blackpool Tiggers, St Annes Road, Blackpool. Nine year old Jonathan Hamilton and Tiggers project co-ordinator Sheila Cullinane.

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BIG smiles bounce around the room when you walk through the door of Blackpool Tiggers.

Children busily dig into bowls of modelling clay, stick glitter onto paintings and chat about their forthcoming trip to Blackpool Sandcastle.

But for parents living daily with autistic children, the happy faces cannot always be seen.

Many worry about the future, or spend sleepless nights thinking about what they endure at school.

When Tiggers started life in 2004, it meant parents from the Fylde coast had somewhere to go to share their fears and anxieties for the first time.

It has led to children growing in confidence, learning to laugh and forming lasting friendships.

It began in a church hall, after parents of autistic children found it difficult to get them into mainstream trampolining sessions.

The group decided to begin activities especially for autistic children, the word soon spread, and so the charity was born.

Now, seven years on, it has more than 100 members and more signing up all the time.

Last year, Tiggers had a strong enough following to rent its own premises on St Annes Road.

The cash already granted has secured equipment for the sensory room on site.

But urgent help is needed to safeguard its future.

Sheila Cullinane, project coordinator, said: “The idea was to give autistic children the chance to experience the kind of fun activities other children enjoy.

Environment is so important to them – they can’t always join mainstream clubs because they may struggle with noise or following instructions.

“It is so heartbreaking to be told your child can’t stay in a club they love.

“For my son it was trampolining.

“That is why Tiggers started, because lots of autistic children love to bounce, like the character from Winnie the Pooh.

“As a parent, all you ever want is for your child to be happy, the idea of them not being able to do the things they love tears you apart.

“They are just children, they didn’t ask to be autistic, so they shouldn’t have to suffer.” Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how sufferers communicate and interact with other people.

There are more than 500,000 people with autism in the UK, and approximately one in every 100 people is affected.

The condition can mean things many people take for granted, like understanding and relating to others, or taking part in everyday family and social life, may be harder.

It is a spectrum condition, meaning although people with autism share certain areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in different ways.

Donate money straight to the Tiggers’ bank account:

Account Name: Blackpool Tiggers

Account No: 00046320

Sort Code: 30-90-90

Bank Name: Lloyds TSB

Send cheques made payable to Blackpool Tiggers, to 29 St Annes Road, Blackpool, FY4 2AP.

For more information, visit the website www.blackpooltiggers.co.uk/

Or you can organise your own fund raising events.

For details, contact lisa.ettridge@ blackpoolgazette.co.uk, or ring (01253) 361703, or get more information by writing to Lisa at the Gazette, Avroe House, Avroe Crescent, Blackpool Business Park, Blackpool, FY4 2DP.