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Honorary graduate Anna’s television bid to raise awareness

17 February 2015 @TeessideUni


The dancefloor beckons in aid of charity for Teesside University honorary graduate Anna Kennedy OBE.

Anna is taking part in The People’s Strictly for Comic Relief, a four-part BBC One programme to be broadcast during the run-up to Red Nose Day on Friday 13 March. The first programme is due to air on Wednesday 25 February.

She will appear alongside six individuals chosen for their 'tireless and selfless work which has helped change so many lives for the better'.

Anna said: 'I am so excited and nervous, all rolled into one. Taking part will provide a great platform to raise awareness about autism.'

Originally from Middlesbrough, Anna is a prominent autism campaigner who has set up two autism spectrum disorder specialist schools, drawing on her own experiences as a mother.

She became an honorary graduate of Teesside University in 2013 in recognition of her achievements and campaigning.

Anna is mum to sons Patrick and Angelo, who are both affected by autism. Having been turned away by 26 special needs schools while searching for appropriate educational facilities for her sons, the Teesside University honorary graduate took matters into her own hands.

She took the bold step of re-mortgaging her home to transform a derelict West London building to create Hillingdon Manor School. The school, now a centre of excellence for children and young adults with autism, earned considerable recognition for its outstanding work and early in its life caught the imagination of Esther Rantzen who is now Hillingdon Manor's patron.

Since then, Anna’s story has been widely reported in the media and she is regularly invited to speak at conferences on the subject of autism.

Joining Anna on the show will be Phillip Barnett who founded a children’s theatre charity, MS sufferer Trishna Bharadia who is raising awareness of the condition, Cassidy Little who lost the lower part of his leg while serving as a medic in Afghanistan, Heather Parsons who set up a charity to support intensive care patients and their families and Michael Pattie, fundraiser for meningitis charities.

The programme will introduce the contestants in the first two episodes, with the third episode following their training and preparation. The fourth and final episode will see all contestants take to the ballroom floor, when voting lines will then open with the public deciding their winner.

In the News

Radio - Strictly and Anna
BBC Tees, 04/03/2015

Everyday hero Anna aims to be a Strictly dance queen
Evening Gazette, 21/02/2015
Middlesbrough mum and autism champion, Anna Kennedy OBE, is heading for the dancefloor.

Show support for Middlesbrough's Anna on Strictly Comic Relief special
Gazette Live - Online, 19/02/2015; BBC Tees, 18/02/2015; BBC Tees, 26/02/2015
Honorary graduate Anna Kennedy.