Hillingdon Manor School, Uxbridge, Middlesex – is a specialist school for children with Autistic Spectrum Condition, it was founded by Anna Kennedy OBE. October 23 saw the school celebrating its 15th year. Anna and her husband Sean opened Hillingdon Manor School back in 1999. They started out with 19 pupils and now have 165 pupils,making it one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
Anna Kennedy told Autism Daily Newscast that she has been on a roller coaster journey with the school and that the whole experience has been a steep learning curve, adding that the special day itself was an emotional one.
In attendance were families and pupils of the school. Richard Mylan, who is an actor and appears in the BBC television series, Waterloo Road, also joined the celebrations. His son, Jaco is on the autism spectrum. Other attendees included, Sir John Randall MP for Uxbridge who is a great supporter of the school, and Deputy Mayor and Mayoress who were also blown away and emotional.
Richard Mylan told that he was blown away by what he saw;
“what immediately struck me was how warm, vibrant and full of joy its occupants were. The staff and students were very accommodating and eager to show off their achievements… Which were many!”
Richard further adds:
“I was so inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of the teachers which transferred to the smiling faces of the many talented students I spoke to. I left with a feeling of hope for my wonderful young son of 9 years who has PDD and also a strong urge to move to Middlesex! Or at the very least, the urge to bang on the necessary doors here in Wales, telling them about the amazing, awe inspiring and most importantly, progressive things that are happening right now at Hillingdon Manor School.”
The programme of this special afternoon began with a welcome by one of the pupils who was also the main Compare for the celebrations, Daniel Wythe. This was followed by a speech given by Sir John Randall MP. Marcus Davenport who is in his final year at the school, then gave an eloquent and heartfelt speech entitled, What Hillingdon Manor Means to Me. Marcus spoke about his time at Hillingdon Manor and that when he first came to the school, he really struggled in English. However now he has passed his GCSE with an A star.
There was a short Dramatic Interlude by the pupils called School Days, followed by another moving speech by Shomari Nassor. Anna told:
“I loved the part when he said ‘Hillingdon Manor is an old building and needs tender loving care, however it’s cosy, it’s home and a great place to learn.”
Dance with Attitude also performed, were pupils showcased their street dancing skills rounded off with staff singing, Oh Happy Day.
Finally Anna told us:
“I asked 3 pupils to help me cut the cake and I said, ‘lets make a wish’. All 3 pupils looked at me and smiled…Enough said !!”
Hillingdon Manor School website can be found here
Anna Kennedy Online can be found here