The family of a young person at Prior's Court is backing our fundraising appeal for a ground-breaking centre to ensure more young people with autism can benefit from the transformational power of the performing arts.

Jamie Lawrence, 19, is in residential care at Prior’s Court, in our Young Adult Provision.

His family, who live in Guildford, are supporting our Let Me Shine Performing Arts Centre appeal, which is seeking £900,000 to support the build of the innovative and bespoke arts centre.

The Lawrence family are backing the appeal as in his time at Prior’s Court, Jamie, who left the family home at the age of 10 to go into care due to his aggressive behaviours associated with his complex needs, has been enabled to experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities through the arts.

This has included recording an “anthem for autism” called Let Me Shine, re-recording the song at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios, and performing on-stage at music festivals with the Prior’s Court Band.

The Lawrence family appear in a new film, seen at the top of this page or viewable on YouTube, raising awareness of the appeal, in which they talk about the challenges of having a child/ sibling with such complex needs and why the centre would be so important for Jamie and young people like him.

Dr Alan Lawrence, Jamie’s father, said:

To think where Jamie has come from – going into care at the age of 10 and the challenges his autism has posed him – to recording at Abbey Road Studios and performing at festivals, it is unbelievable. It makes you so proud. And it is all down to Prior’s Court. This has been done without a specialist facility at Prior’s Court – just the dedication, knowledge and passion of so many staff members. Imagine what more Jamie and other young people could achieve with this bespoke arts centre?

Lindsey Lawrence, Jamie’s mother, added:

Music and the arts has the power to make such a difference to young people at Prior’s Court. Why shouldn’t someone like my son be a rockstar or act on TV or on the stage?

Prior’s Court’s ambition is to use the centre to research best practice around providing support to access the arts, and sharing these learnings with others in the education and performing arts sectors for the benefit of people with autism, and their families, across the country and beyond.

Mike Robinson, Prior’s Court Chief Executive Officer, said:

Many of our young people are non-verbal and the arts provides a magnificent outlet for expressing their needs, wants and emotions. But individuals with autism face many barriers to accessing the arts – from light and noise sensitivities, to understanding of social rules. The arts should be inclusive but, right now for one reason or another, for people with autism, that is just not the case. So one aim of the centre is to mimic theatre environments’ lighting, for example, to prepare young people to access arts venues in the community successfully. Or in Jamie’s case, that might be helping him to understand he cannot get on stage and perform alongside a cast.

For more information, see the fundraising section of our website or the accompanying appeal video.

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For donation queries, contact [email protected].