TWO determined mothers who founded an Autism support group with an £80 donation are about to celebrate their first anniversary after helping hundreds of families.

Michelle Abbs and Laura Younger, who both have children on the Autism spectrum, set up Little Treasures in October 2016 after struggling to find any support in the area.

In just one year the team of two have raised thousands of pounds, helped hundreds of children and their families and expanded from one group in Ferryhill to four groups around the region.

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Mrs Younger, of Bishop Auckland, said: “We can’t believe it’s been a year since we launched Little Treasures.

“This time last year we were travelling all over collecting beanbags and toys and leaflet dropping in all weathers to advertise the group.

“We planned the first session in Ferryhill and after a kind donation from Mark Williams Transport of £80, which helped us buy sensory lights for our sensory room, Little Treasures was born.”

The first group launched with 17 families attending, growing in numbers month by month, and prompting the launch of three further groups in Framwellgate Moor, Consett and Great Lumley.

Groups meet twice a month, led by Mrs Younger and Mrs Abbs, who offer a parent support session and a stay and play group.

A Christmas fair, fun days and several parties have raised more than £1,000 for the group, which has also received donations from Ferryhill Town Youth Football Club, Shotton Darts club, Esh Communities and Greggs Communities.

Mrs Abbs, of Ferryhill, said: “We founded the group because we wanted to be there for families who were going through the same things as us, and in the process we have gained a second family.

“We would like to thank everyone who has supported us this year, members, volunteers, everybody who has donated and everybody who offers us support. We can’t wait to see what our second year together brings.”

A fun day to mark the first anniversary will take place on Saturday, October 21 at Ferryhill Sport and Education Centre from 10am to 2pm.

There will be stalls, live entertainment, face painting, a magician, balloon modelling, soft play, bouncy castles and much more.

Mrs Abbs added: "All money raised will go to Little Treasures, to ensure the children can access specialist equipment and social activities but most of all to give them somewhere to be themselves and never be judged. We would love to see as many people as possible come and help us celebrate our first year."