‘Local hero’ and radio DJ Aston Avery uses his voice to give hope to people in the Essex community. To date, he has raised over £80,000 for various charities.
After overcoming depression so severe that he tried to take his own life the 28-year-old, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, created an inspiring video which documents his journey to self-acceptance.
THIS IS ME is now shown in schools as part of his campaign to raise awareness for those on the autistic spectrum.
Finding a voice
Aston’s incredible success is made even more amazing by the fact that he didn’t start speaking until he was six years old. In addition to autism, he was diagnosed with pica (an eating disorder that made him eat toys) and enterocolitis, which led to a full colostomy at the age of 11.
It was then that he began experiencing suicidal thoughts, resulting in an attempt to take his own life. Performance was an escape from his feelings and a year later, on the advice of his parents and GP, Aston founded a local dance school in Basildon.
In recognition of his contribution to the local community, he received a Pride of Essex award in 2012.
He went on to perform at Autism’s Got Talent at the Mermaid Theatre in London, and was awarded a scholarship from the Pineapple Performing Arts School. In 2016 he won a National Diversity Award.
Changing the lives of others
To date, Aston has raised over £80,000 for various charities. And, as an ambassador for the autism charity Anna Kennedy Online, he actively promotes autism awareness and inclusion.
With the support of his parents and a small group of helpers, he has formed Team Avery Essex, which recently launched a pamper project to reward deserving people with pampering at a high end salon.
In 2018 he completed a skydive to raise funds for an electric wheelchair for a six-year-old boy named Joshua, who has cerebral palsy and dystonia.
In March 2019, he was named a Basildon Hero.
Along with his volunteering work – for which he has received the Diana Award – he is a presenter on Gateway 97.8FM and has a monthly radio show titled ‘All Things Autism Essex’.
If that isn’t enough, in March 2020 he will be taking part in the Strictly St Luke’s charity dance to raise money for St Luke’s Hospice.
From Essex to Hollywood!
Aston’s THIS IS ME video includes touching interviews with himself and his parents, plus a performance by local singers of the Golden Globe award-winning song ‘This is Me’, which features on the soundtrack of the 2017 Hollywood film The Greatest Showman.This isn’t Aston’s only brush with fame, however: through his campaigning, he has appeared in newspaper articles and met stars from TV shows like The Only Way is Essex and Loose Women.
Aston adds: “Life might throw up some challenges, but I can be proud of who I am. Autism is something that I live to embrace, and I will continue to campaign in this field to make sure that there is inclusion in all aspects of life.” “Aston-Martin sounds like an inspirational young man, who has been through a tough journey but has dedicated his time and energy into helping others through a broad variety of means. A truly outstanding individual.”
“Fab story told lots, makes me want to do more.” “I was deeply moved by this story and in awe of how many things one person has achieved considering their circumstances. I understand the anxiety of anaphylaxis and how scary it can be.”