World Autism Awareness Day

Karen Neville


Sunday 2nd April is World Autism Awareness Day, national charity Dogs for Autism, based in Alton, Hampshire, shares the story of employee Lola and how dogs help her

As Autism Liaison Co-Ordinator for Dogs for Autism, Lola Bellarosa-Homer is often the first point of contact for the families the charity helps. She has always really enjoyed her role, but her recent autism diagnosis has meant she really understands why she absolutely loves her job and feels like she belongs at the charity.

“Getting the formal diagnosis meant everything, for the first time in my life I felt like I belonged,” is how Lola reacted to finding out her formal diagnosis.

After her son, who is now 17 years old, was diagnosed with autism and cognitive learning disabilities, Lola set about investing her time into learning about autism and how best she could support her son and help him navigate the world. For as long as she could remember she had felt like she hadn’t fitted in, and experienced huge anxiety and depression that led her to self-harm, from being a teenager until she met her husband. While there wasn’t a lightbulb moment, she realized that a lot of the questions she asked about herself were common questions that other autistic adults were having.

After a lot of research and thought, she decided she wanted to know whether she too was autistic, and after seven months of consultation she was given her formal diagnosis.

Describing how it feels to know she is autistic, Lola said: “I finally see the world in colour. It’s like someone put a key into a lock and opened something that had been shut away for 30 years.”

Lola sees being autistic as an overwhelmingly positive thing and is keen that other people know about all the strengths that her autism brings her. Perseverance and courage, which come from having to work so much harder to navigate the neurotypical world, are two of the qualities that she wants to pass on to her son and every other autistic person. She also needs an enormous amount of courage to face and resolve difficult situations; this enables her to be a huge help to the families Dogs for Autism work with and they know that the charity really understand and see the world from an autistic person’s point of view. It’s meant she’s been able to bring in new processes, flow charts and mind maps, which all help the charity provide more support to their partners.

CEO of Dogs for Autism, Hilary Armour, sees huge benefits in having an autistic person as part of any team. She added: “It’s a massively positive step for our families to have someone supporting them who really ‘gets’ autism. I would actively encourage any employer to include autistic people in their teams.”

Lola feels that her unique perspective is an advantage to her work and something that any company would benefit from. She wants to be champion for helping employers to understand that by making small changes in the workplace, autistic employees can bring creativity, enthusiasm, and a new vision to their role. She would love other employers to read this and realise how positive it can be to have an autistic or neurodiverse person in the workplace. By making some small changes, educating staff, being accepting and open to allowing an autistic person to process things in their own way, it really will make a difference to the lives of their autistic staff, as well as bringing new strengths to the workplace.

For more on Dogs for Autism visit Dogs For Autism

Summer reading challenge

Round & About


Meet the Gadgeteers and get involved in science at Alton Library this summer

This summer, children aged four-11 can visit Alton library to meet the Gadgeteers and to get involved in a science and innovation themed Summer Reading Challenge.

Through taking part in the Challenge, children will be able to join six fictional Gadgeteers. The characters – brought to life by children’s writer and illustrator Julian Beresford – use their curiosity and wonder to understand the science behind a whole range of interests, from fashion and technology to cooking and music.

The Gadgeteers will help to spark children’s curiosity about the world around them and encourage them to feed their imagination over the summer holiday. They will be boggled by brilliant facts, gaze at the stars, and be inspired by tales of creativity and invention whilst earning rewards along the way.
With plenty of great options across picture books, early readers and middle grade books, there’s lots to keep children busy at Alton Library. Read six books and collect a medal and certificate to mark the completion of the Summer Reading Challenge.

Since 1999, the popular Challenge has encouraged children to read for pleasure over the summer holidays, building reading skills and confidence and helping to prevent the ‘dip’ in reading skills while children are out of school. By providing fun reading activities, the Challenge will support families and teachers by providing free-to-access recreation and learning resources – all created to keep children inspired to read.

Alton Library is open: Monday 9.30am-1.30pm and Tuesday/ Thursday/ Friday/ Saturday 9.30am-5pm.

The library will also be holding children’s activities on Thursday, 11th August 2-4pm and Tuesday, 23rd August 2-4pm.

Pizzeria Campana: A taste of Italy

Karen Neville


A truly authentic pizza restaurant and take away opens on March 19th at The Shed, Bordon

Pizzeria Campana is not another pizza chain outlet but a real family business bringing the taste of Campania (the Italian region where Naples is located) into the heart of Bordon with traditional Italian pizzas.  

Gareth Turner, one of the Pizzeria Campana team is thrilled to be opening: “It started as a simple dream – to create a truly Italian style pizza oven stocked with wood, fired up and ready to bake a pizza, which has been lovingly handmade from a carefully crafted authentic recipe and topped with the finest, freshest ingredients.” 

“Open 7 days a week, for lunch and evening service, Pizzeria Campana will take you on a culinary trip to Italy. Our friendly family team members will be ready and waiting to bring the authentic Italian style pizza restaurant (collection and delivery) into the heart of Hampshire. 

Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company is delighted to announce this new opening on Saturday, 19th March. In recent months The Shed has also welcomed new food restaurants/takeaways The Shack and Stuff’d as well confectioner Sweet Treats to its unique, authentic shared experience. 

With a range of artisan treats, home cooked food, arts & crafts, creative workspaces and great local entertainment The Shed features an array of the best local makers and creators. 

There are Markets every Wednesday and on two Saturdays a month, plus entertainment at The Cube and host of major events throughout the year, so there’s so much more on offer than in your average shed. 

Pizzeria Campana opening times:

Mon – Wed: 11am-9pm
Thu – Sat: 11am-10:30pm
Sun: 11am-7:30pm 

For more information about The Shed, businesses and events, visit:  

Tell us your local news here