AUTISM charity Daisy Chain has appointed a new chief executive.

Neeraj Sharma, originally from Darlington, has moved from being at the helm of the town's Citizens Advice Bureau to Daisy Chain in Norton, Stockton.

He trained as a solicitor and hopes now to bring his skills and talents to the charity which supports thousands of families affected by autism.

Mr Sharma's time at CAB saw him introducing new services including those to stop social isolation in the elderly as well as a youth employability programme for those aged 16 to 30.

He said: "Up until now, my work has been with people who have been deprived of the support they need and have reached crisis point. I seek to harness the skills that I have acquired working in a rights-based arena and redeploy these to field of autism support services provided by Daisy Chain.

‘The Daisy Chain day centre, farm and outdoor activity spaces provide a vital safe haven and productive platform for both children and adults."

Originally from Darlington, Mr Sharma now lives in Middlesbrough with his wife Manisha, who works in social housing, and two sons Nile, 21, a third-year medical student and Kion, 18, who is completing his A levels.

He worked in pensions for many years and retrained as a solicitor, before being involved with Citizens Advice in London in charge of financial capability support. After spending three years commuting he decided to return as chief executive of Darlington CAB.

He said: "I am honoured to take on a new challenge with such an inspirational local charity. There is still a huge need for more awareness of autism support for what is often perceived as an invisible condition right through from childhood, diagnosis to employment and adult life skills.’

Ian Kinnery, recently appointed as Daisy Chain Chair of Trustees, said he was delighted to welcome Mr Sharma to the organisation, which is now 15 years old.