professional awards 2020
We are proud to reveal the winners of our 2020 Autism Professionals Awards. Well done to our 13 winners and our 36 finalists, including Dr Virginia Bovell OBE who won our Lifetime Achievement Award.

A special ceremony took place at Birmingham Town Hall yesterday evening (27 February), with hosts Jane Asher and Carly Jones MBE. Jane, who is our President, is an actor, writer and businesswoman; Carly is an autism advocate and presenter.

They handed out awards across 13 categories covering education, health, social care, employment, and volunteering. The winners were chosen by an independent panel of autism specialists. They looked for high standards of innovation, creativity, impact and sustainability. By celebrating their achievements, we hope to increase public understanding of autism and inspire other people and organisations to make a difference too.

The winners

Dr Virginia Bovell OBE was awarded the Lifetime Achievement accolade in recognition of the many years she has spent campaigning for and developing better support and services for autistic people, following her son Danny’s diagnosis.

Lee Corless was awarded Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum for his work leading J.P. Morgan’s Autism at Work programme for UK and Europe, Middle East and Africa. J.P Morgan also won the Outstanding Employer award in recognition for this programme, which aims to hire, retain and support autistic people in meaningful roles across the firm.

Hayley Harding was named Most Inspirational Volunteer. Hayley founded the Sutton EHCP Crisis campaign group, after facing difficulties getting the right support for her autistic son Matthew.

In the education categories, Westwood Day Nursery in Coventry and Wilmslow High School in Cheshire won the Inspirational Education Provision awards. Our School Exclusion Service was awarded Innovative Family Support and Melanie Whitfield, the Headteacher at Brookways School in London, took home Achievement by an Individual Education Professional.

In the health and social care categories the big winners were Dr Alison Stansfield, a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service, and The Inclusion Project, an innovative initiative that promotes a healthy, social and active lifestyle for adults with a learning disability, including autistic adults.

Act for Autism was awarded the Most Creative Community Project award and Dr Sarah Cassidy from the University of Nottingham was named Most Impactful Researcher.

The Someone who ‘changed my life’ award was presented to Hazel Lim for her amazing work with the Chinese In Autism Support Group in Wales.

Carol Povey, Director of the National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, said
: “A lot of our work is focused on campaigning for better support and services and highlighting the huge inequalities autistic people and their families continue to face.

“As part of this, it’s also important to recognise the talented and passionate people who are making a difference right now – across so many sectors, from education, to employment and social care.

“The sheer range of expertise of our winners and finalists is staggering. By celebrating their achievements and sharing their stories, I hope we can inspire other people and organisations to follow their lead and help us to create a society that works for autistic people.

“Congratulations to all our winners and finalists.”

Full list of winners

Awards for individuals

Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Dr Virginia Bovell OBE

Achievement by an Individual Education Professional

Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum

Most Inspirational Volunteer

Outstanding Healthcare Professional

Someone who ‘changed my life’

  • Hazel Lim, Chinese In Autism Support Group, Chinese in Wales Association

Awards for teams

Inspirational Education Provision - Primary and Younger

Inspirational Education Provision – Secondary and Further

Outstanding Adult or Children's Services – Health or Social Care

Innovative Family Support

Outstanding Employer

Most Creative Community Project

Most Impactful Researcher

Find out more about autism, the Autism Professionals Awards and the Professionals Conference by visiting