Party-goers’ generous gift for charity

From left: Linda Calite, Troy Ackryd, Katie Rooke and Charlotte Bowles

From left: Linda Calite, Troy Ackryd, Katie Rooke and Charlotte Bowles - Credit: Archant

A March grandmother swapped presents for donations to help raise cash for a national charity which has helped her grandson.

Ethan Rooke, who has autism

Ethan Rooke, who has autism - Credit: Archant

About 80 people attended Susan Darrington’s 60th birthday party held at The Acre Pub and helped raise an amazing £777 for the Autistic Society.

Her three-year-old grandson Ethan Rooke was diagnosed with autism last year and Mrs Darrington wanted to raise awareness of the condition as well as money for the charity.

Daughter Katie Rooke, Ethan’s mum, explained the youngster has various other problems including global development issues and overgrowth - he is about the size of an average eight-year-old and medics predict he is likely to top 7ft when he is fully grown.

She explained she first realised there were problems with Ethan when he was about 18 months old, and her suspicions increased at Christmas, when he was two-years-old and he refused to join in the family fun and instead sat playing happily on his own in another room.

“I knew then I had to do something and I took him to see the doctor in January and by May we had a diagnosis, which was really quick. It was a massive shock for the whole family. We had heard of autism, but didn’t know much about it. Ethan’s development is behind where it should be but he is attending All Saints pre-School, who have been amazingly supportive and Ethan has one-to-one help,” explained Ms Rooke.

She said Ethan’s condition makes life very difficult, things like shopping freak him out.

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“The Autistic Society has been helpful, I have used their website to find out more about the condition. I am really lucky as I have a lot of support from my family who help look after Ethan so I can work,” said Ms Rooke, who is a single mum and works at Produce World in Chatteris.

Three of her work colleagues: Linda Calite, Troy Ackryd and Charlotte Bowles joined Ms Rooke in completing an Insane Terrain race earlier in the year, and together they raised a further £1,000 for the charity.