A Fenland father cycled 50 miles dressed as a children’s TV character to raise money for charity,
Scott Payne, (42), who lives in Manea, grew tired of people staring and making remarks about his nine-year-old autistic son and decided to draw as much attention to himself as he could to raise awareness of autism - so dressed as Mr Tumble for the ride.
Scott even managed to rally four of his friends to take on the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) Ride for Autism fundraiser with him, with one dressed as a Jester and another as a Monk. Together the team of five cycled the 50 miles between Cambridge and Thetford on Saturday 22 August, raising £1300 for the charity.
Scott’s son, Alfie, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. He is non-verbal and struggles to communicate. But his special educational needs school has taught him to communicate and express himself using Makaton, which is a form of sign language. This is one of the reasons that Alfie’s favourite TV show is Something Special, presented by Mr Tumble, who signs in Makaton throughout the show.
Scott and Alfie often watch Mr Tumble together, which inspired Scott to embody the character of Mr Tumble and bring an extra ‘something special’ to his Ride for Autism fundraiser for the NAS.
More than 1 in 100 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. While all people on the spectrum share difficulties around communication and social interaction, every individual is affected in a different way and has a range of different support needs
Scott knows the daily challenges that people on the spectrum face, and has always found information about autism on the NAS website. Now he wants encourage everyone to learn more about autism and understand how much difference it can make to be empathetic to people on the spectrum who are struggling in public or social spaces.
Scott said: “I still don’t think people have enough of an understanding of autism - there are too many times that I take Alfie to the shops with me, or we go out as a family, and people start staring or judging him. Those kind of looks and remarks from strangers - they aren’t fair - they make it feel like Alfie is doing something wrong, when he’s just being himself.
“So for this fundraiser, I thought I’d give people a chance to stare – in fact I thought I’d make it hard for them not to!
“It was quite a challenge to cycle all that way in one day, I’m 21 stone and I’ve done no training. But I just think: I can see my boy struggling on a daily basis. If he can get through each day and get on and be the happy guy he is, then I can do this!”
Kate Donohue, Head of Supporter Fundraising at the National Autistic Society, said:
“Having Scott on the Ride for Autism team was just brilliant, his energy and determination kept everyone’s spirits up, and you could always hear him coming before you saw him!
“It’s so important to raise awareness of autism, and I don’t think there’s one person who saw Scott on his bike and wasn’t curious to find out more, which is exactly what this day is all about.
“The NAS relies on people like Scott to raise public understanding and support individuals with autism to live the lives they choose, and we’re so pleased to have had his support.”