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52 Miles to Mark Autism Diagnosis

52 Smiles Ride 52 Miles is a charity cycle ride organised to raise awareness of and give thanks to Autism Guernsey. Volunteer Sandra Robilliard, the woman behind the event, is urging the public to sign up for what promises to be a fun day out.

Having suffered from mental health difficulties throughout her adult life, Sandra went through years of misdiagnoses before finally being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition on the autistic spectrum, at the age of 52. Sandra now gains a great deal of enjoyment through volunteering at Autism Guernsey, where she feels valued and has a real sense of purpose and fulfilment.

Sandra explains, ‘I am quite new to doing anything for charity, partly because of the social and sensory challenges involved. The idea of using my bicycle to generate funds somehow and bring some awareness is where the idea for it all came from.’

Sandra goes on to say, ‘I am very very keen to be able to give something back to Autism Guernsey because of the amount of support and benefit I have had from that charity.’

The aim of this 52-mile cycle ride, relating to Sandra’s age at diagnosis, is to raise awareness of adult autism and highlight the work that Autism Guernsey do to help ease the challenges faced by those on the autistic spectrum and their families. The charity hopes the event will also raise much-needed funds.

Cyclists have a choice of the main 52-mile route or a shorter 17-mile route; both will start at the Aquarium and finish at the Model Yacht Pond. Should you feel you cannot complete either of these routes there is also a ‘find my own way option’. Volunteers will be stationed at each of the six checkpoints. The first letter of each checkpoint spell out the word ‘AUTISM’:

Aquarium Underground Hospital Table des Pions – The Fairy Ring Icart Point Saline Bay Model Yacht Pond

Following the ride, participants are invited to stay for hot dogs, provided by Town Butchers at the Sailing Trust. There will also be the chance to sail an Optimist, (known as an Oppie) a small single-handed sailing dinghy, on the Model Yacht Pond. This opportunity will be free to all riders, and a small donation is encouraged for non-ride participants.

Sandra hopes that at least 52 riders sign up for the event and says that cyclists of all abilities are welcome.

Adventure Cycles are generously sponsoring the event and will be accompanying Sandra, who has a target cycle time of five hours and 20 minutes to complete the course.

Autism Guernsey is an independent charity set up in 2013, whose aim is to ensure those with autism can lead full, positive and inclusive lives enjoying a reasonable degree of independence.

As a registered charity, Autism Guernsey receives no statutory financial backing and relies heavily on support from the island’s community to continue their work. They rely on volunteers like Sandra to help keep the charity running. Julia Watts, Autism Services Manager, comments: ‘Sandra is an invaluable member of the Autism Guernsey team, having someone with her IT and technical expertise is something we could not be without. Not to mention acting as an ambassador for the charity, happily speaking to the media to raise awareness. Every office would benefit from a Sandra.’

If you want to sign up, please visit www.52miles.eventbrite.com

For more information about the fantastic work Autism Guernsey does, or to get involved please visit www.autismguernsey.org.gg

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