AN autistic man from the region impressed expert judge and international photographer Rankin to win the photography category in a national creativity competition.

Andrew Hewitt, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, had his work showcased after winning the competition, launched by the National Autistic Society (NAS).

It was displayed along with the efforts of other winners in an exhibition, at the Gallerina, in London’s Pall Mall, last week.

The unique collection of works, also judged by adults with autism alongside experts in each category including political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe and poets Wendy Cope and Lachlan MacKinnon, offered insights into what it is like to live with the much misunderstood condition.

Mr Hewitt’s winning photograph is of a lady he met on the way back from Northallerton fair who had a giant stuffed tiger in her pull along shopping trolley.

The 35-year-old said: “I am really happy that I have won, as my photograph reflects my sense of humour.

“It is called Strange Encounters and reflects the strangeness of life in general - not just because I might see things in a different way to other people.”

The exhibition forms part of the NAS I Exist campaign, which found that many adults with autism are prevented from reaching their full potential due to a lack of support.

The works are a real testament to the contribution adults with autism have to give. Many are powerfully expressed and consider how a condition which affects the way people communicate with and relate to the world can provide an interesting and unusual perspective.

Mark Lever, NAS chief executive, said: “Congratulations to Andrew.

“There are more than 500,000 people with autism in the UK - that is one in 100 - and many adults with autism tell us how important art and creativity are in their lives.

“We have been overwhelmed by the quality of Andrew’s work and hope it will bring home to Government, local authorities and the general public just some of the realities faced by people with autism across the UK today.”

An online gallery of the pieces carried in the exhibition is at