In the run up to Christmas, the Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events sales team, which manages catering and events at Newcastle’s St James’ Park, held a festive lunch for youngsters with the condition.
Around 100 guests, including 32 autistic children attended the event, which included a visit from Santa Claus and a mini-tour of the stadium and raised more than £200 for the North East Autism Society.
Now its organisers have seen off competition from venues across the UK to win the Sales and Marketing Innovation Award, at Sodexo’s sales and marketing award ceremony, held annually to recognise the sales teams’ contribution to the growth of the business.
The team was presented with its award by Northern Ireland international footballer and Cowdenbeath manager Jimmy Nicholl, at a ceremony at Dundas Castle, West Lothian Scotland.
“The whole team is over the moon to have won,” said Samantha. “I know from experience how difficult it is for autistic children to take part in the sort of activities – such as meeting Santa and going out for lunch – that other children and families take for granted.
“That is why we decided to organise something specially for them – and we’re not stopping there.
“We are currently working with the North East Autism Society to plan further events over the coming year and Newcastle United Football Club is in the throes of creating an Autism Charter, so we hope we can really make an ongoing difference to the lives of families living with autism in our region.”