Smiles all round for Norwich’s Oskar after UEA comedians offer to help with fundraiser
- Credit: Steve Adams
A two-year-old from Norwich was all smiles after a student-led comedy club offered to help raise vital cash to purchase a safe space for him to play in.
It comes following last month's appeal in the Evening News, to help fund a soft play area for autistic toddler Oskar Hollings.
Now, Headlights Comedy Society, based at the UEA, has offered to support the cause as part of its annual end of year charity event.
Club president Fedor Tot became aware of the appeal by a former president, Emma Hampton.
'It seemed like a great idea,' he said. 'We always run an end of year charity event, where we showcase all our best stuff over the past year in one show. There is also a headliner hand-picked by us who comes on afterwards.
'We normally team up with a charity that's present on campus – last November we did a similar kind of gig for Amnesty – but this seemed like something slightly different from the charity fundraising that we normally do.'
Like many of his peers, Oskar is lively and energetic, but at the age of just 10 months old, his mother, Jackie Hollings, became aware that something was different.
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He became distressed by loud noise and clapping at a music group, had difficulties with walking and balance and began self-stimulating by shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Other symptoms including lack of eye contact and 'babbling' rather than speaking.
He will now have to wait until he is three years old for an official diagnosis, but he is suspect to have autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing issues and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
While Oskar is awake, the mum-of-four has been left unable to carry out many essential tasks around the house – such as preparing meals and cleaning – because her son needs permanent supervision.
She decided to look for solutions and came across Safespaces, a company which specialises in providing safe, living and sleeping spaces for people with special needs. Fitters from the company have already assessed Oskar's needs and now Miss Hollings needs to raise the £2,900 to purchase a Voyager area.
The space, which is also portable, would allow him to go on holidays and also to play safely while Miss Hollings carries out the basic tasks she is currently unable to do.
Since she appealed for help, Miss Hollings said she had been inundated with offers and felt touched by the people who have been in contact with her.
'I was delighted when I found out the students from the UEA wanted to help out,' she said. 'They are so lovely and sweet and when they saw the article in the paper, they decided to help us.
There will also be a stall at the comedy night, to raise funds and awareness for the National Autistic Society.
She added: 'We like to be able to give back too.
'I want to thank everyone who has been in touch with offers to help and contribute. I've been really touched with how generous people have been.'
- The UEA Headlights Comedy Society show will take place next Wednesday, and doors open at 7pm. The headliner this year is Colchester-based The Unmistakable Scent of Leopard. Tickets cost £5 and will be available on the door. For more information, search for UEA Headlights Comedy Society on Facebook.
- Are you doing something special for charity? Email Donna-Louise Bishop or call 01603 772568.