Autistic student hosts fundraising quiz night

LVS Hassocks Learner Cameron with his mother SUS-160119-111757001
LVS Hassocks Learner Cameron with his mother SUS-160119-111757001

A student with autism has received acclaim from his school and beyond for single-handedly setting up and running a successful quiz night at a Hassocks pub.

Cameron Ellis, 18, has been a student at LVS Hassocks, a specialist school in Sayers Common for young people with learning difficulties, for four years.

Late last year he had the idea of hosting a fundraising quiz night at local pub the Duke of York to raise money for the school’s proposed exchange visit to Germany in the summer.

Cameron contacted the pub to book the event, organised prizes, and wrote the questions himself.

Not content there, and encouraged by the school to take charge of projects, Cameron then stood in front of the pub regulars and members of the LVS Hassocks community, armed with a microphone, to read out all the quiz questions to the nine participating teams on Thursday December 10.

This was a particularly notable part of Cameron’s achievement, as people with autism can find social interaction and communication difficult.

Cameron said: “I did everything from having the idea to writing and reading the questions. I wouldn’t have been able to do this before but people here have better understanding of my problems and have helped me to progress.”

It was a hugely entertaining evening with residential learners and staff mixing with locals in a community event that also included a sausage and chips dinner - the only part of the evening that Cameron couldn’t take credit for having left the cooking to the pub chefs!

Landlady Helen from the Duke of York pub said: “The evening went exceptionally well. Cameron’s organisation was excellent and the locals really appreciated his efforts to involve them and integrate the community. Cameron and his fellow students who attended are shining examples of the work LVS Hassocks is doing and we look forward to supporting them again in the future.”

Cameron’s mother said: “I am very proud of him - he has come such a long way at LVS Hassocks. There is no way he could ever have stood in front of a pub full of strangers and publicly talk to them before he came here, as he struggled with anxiety and low self-esteem. But the staff know him so well here and how to get the best out of him. We went to a tribunal to get Cameron in to LVS Hassocks and it was the best fight I have ever had!”

The evening generated fundraising of £84 which will go towards the school’s German exchange programme.

Head of Centre Kira Brabenec said: “Cameron’s efforts provide a perfect example of how our approach at LVS Hassocks develops learners in terms of independence and confidence as well as academically.

“We are really proud of his efforts to create such a well-run event and his thoughtfulness in making sure everything was just right.”

Cameron also demonstrated the benefits his education at LVS Hassocks has brought to his confidence and talents by opening the show at the national Autism’s Got Talent event in London last May.

He played guitar in front of 6,000 people at the Mermaid Theatre with the LVS Hassocks Allstars Blues Band – all the more amazing as he had never played a guitar before arriving at LVS Hassocks three years earlier.

Report and picture contributed by LVS Hassocks.