Cyclist in the spectrum design with quote

Meet Arran Linton-Smith, autistic man, Guinness World Record winner, and accomplished bell ringer!

Arran is a keen cyclist, and has taken part in our charity's Ride London event several times. He is now turning his sporting talents to next year's London Marathon, where he will attempt to reclaim the Guinness World Record for the 'most brands advertising on a single sportswear item'. Arran first broke the record in 2014 with 110 sponsored logos. But it's since been beaten by Pamela Dickerson in Australia, who managed to get 112 logos.

Arran chatted to us about his plans to win back this coveted title, his work with our charity to help close the Autism Employment Gap, and what everday life on the spectrum is like for him.

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What made you decide to attempt the Guinness World Record again?

My first world record attempt was life-changing. I’d only recently been diagnosed, at the age of 56, and was still struggling with my new identity. Convincing businesses to sponsor my top jersey and talking about the challenge in the media helped me to accept myself for who I am and to be open about my autism. It helped me to feel comfortable with my place in the world.

Since then, I have been working hard with the National Autistic Society to close the Autism Employment Gap – particularly through the media but also by speaking in Parliament and at various events and conferences.

I want autistic people to be accepted and understood by society.

I hope this Guinness World Record attempt will give me a platform to challenge the way people see autism, particularly employers, and show the huge contribution autistic people can make to society and the workplace.

I’m 64 now and want to make sure I spend my time doing all I can to help the next generation of autistic people.

Why are you so passionate about autism and employment specifically?

I struggled at school and left without any basic qualifications. I was lucky to get employment soon after but my career has been very bumpy - I've lost jobs, been made redundant and have had to re-invent myself many times - including qualifying as a nurse and working on the railway and construction projects around the world.

A big part of the problem was that no-one, including me, realised I was autistic. I struggled with the banter and often ended up being the butt of jokes. None of us understood that my brain simply works differently.

This all changed with my diagnosis. After I came to terms with this, I eventually decided to tell my colleagues. I was really nervous but – to my surprise - everyone was understanding and people started to realise that my different way of seeing things was a huge asset. We made some small adjustments, like excusing me from attending after-work functions that I found stressful. And together we were able to work even more successfully.

I feel like I’ve finally got to a good place, even if it’s in the latter stages of my career. I know that many other autistic people are still struggling, there’s so much wasted talent. I want to try and change this – and make sure we level the playing field.

Tell us about the first time you broke the record

This was at Ride London in 2014, a 100-mile cycling race through London. It also coincided with Hurricane Bertha. I’m a seasoned cyclist but these conditions were the most difficult I’ve ever cycled in. The race ended up being cut short by 16 miles – and I crashed in the early stages of the race. Fortunately, I was able to continue and managed to finish in three hours and 50 minutes, beating Chris Boardman.

I used to love reading about Guinness World Records as child, so I’m incredibly proud of this achievement – not least because of how the process helped shape me.

But it was broken again, by Pamela Dickerson, of Dubbo, in Australia. Her husband, Matthew who used to be Mayor of Dubbo, also held the title before me so it’s turning into a friendly competition. Both Pamela and Mathew would like to come to London and support me on this occasion, by competing in the Marathon.

When are you aiming to reclaim this record?

When I run in next year’s London Marathon on 26 April 2020. I hope the interest in this event will give me lots of opportunities to talk about autism, particularly in the media.

How can the public help you achieve this record?

It is simple. I'm looking for businesses and any organisation, clubs etc, to sponsor me, so I can advertise their branded logo on my shirt when I run the London Marathon. All the funds raised will go to the National Autistic Society but the main aim of this is to increase public understanding and support of autism.

I'd really appreciate any support.

Help Arran reclaim his record

Arran is focused on reclaiming the title and is already reaching out to various businesses and organisations to ask them to sponsor him with their logo. If you’d like to help, you could share his story or encourage your business or organisation to sponsor him. All proceeds go to our charity. Find out more on Arran’s website.

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