East Anglian Autistic Support Trust (EAST)

My wife, Maggie, and I were among five people who founded the East Anglian Autistic Support Trust (EAST) in 1991. We focussed our efforts on supporting young adults with autism and launched an appeal to build accommodation in Cambridgeshire.

As Chair of the Trust, I set an initial aim of raising £1 million to build specially adapted accommodation for about a dozen people. We registered the Trust with the Charity Commissioners and launched our fundraising campaign.

Owen and Maggie Launch EAST project
Owen and Maggie Launch EAST project

As advised by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), we hired two fundraisers. David Whitaker secured corporate funding, donations from local businesses and grant providers. Lisa Chapman, became our front-facing community fundraiser. By staging a range of local events and giving family support, she built a public awareness of the charity.

Our fundraising strategy was to work in partnership with other organisations committed to this work.  Among these were The National Autistic Society who would run and manage the service, once our work was completed.  We also joined forces with Hereward Housing in Ely, who provided the expertise to find a site for purpose-built accommodation or even a suitable property which could be converted.

It was an ambitious £1 million plan.  After much hard work, we raised £1.5 million. Transforming Stretham Old Rectory, a huge redundant Grade 2* building into home for 16 young adults with autism was a challenging task.

We renamed the rectory Juniper House.  Brother Juniper was a thirteenth century friar who is believed to be earliest recorded person to have had autism.

In November 1997, Jane Asher launched the project and formally renamed the Old Rectory. Two years later, the first residents took up residence. And Juniper House was officially opened in September 2001, by The Princess Royal, HRH Princess Anne.

In 2013, with our ambition complete, the remaining assets of EAST were handed over to Autism Anglia. Today they continue to provide adult services and a co-educational school for children with autism in the region.

On these pages you’ll find some articles collected from our fundraising days at EAST.

You can also find more information about the community fundraising from Lisa’a pages.

You may also be interested in my articles on Autism



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