A Wirral computer enthusiast with Asperger's syndrome has been named Young Volunteer of the Year for his voluntary work at a Claughton charity shop.

Ralph Smith, 22, who works for the Home Start Wirral store in Claughton Village, was bestowed the honour at the Charity Retail Awards.

He works with specialised computer software which helps him to sort, scan and categorise donated books, making sure that they are labelled correctly so that staff know what to sell on the shop floor and what to sell online. Ralph then lists the more valuable books on eBay.

So far this year he has scanned and sorted more than 1,300 books and achieved sales of over GBP250 for Home Start Wirral.

Shop manager Sara Forfar said she nominated Ralph for the award because of his "dedication to his role".

She added: "We love having Ralph as part of our team. He has turned up for every shift, is always on time and he gets on with his job beautifully. We're very proud of him. To win a national award like this is really impressive."

Ralph's mother Jayne said her son has been playing on computers since the age of three.

She said: "We're tickled pink with this award. It is showing Ralph that he is liked, loved and respected and it has boosted his confidence. I think the team were surprised at what he can do with a computer and that he can get so much done in a day. He can process a whole box of books in half the time anyone else can."

Ralph, from the Wirral, found his job through the Wirral Autistic Society's Step into Work Plus scheme, which prepares young adults with Asperger's syndrome for the world of work through mentoring, specialist training and work placement opportunities.

Beverley Breen, programme manager of Step into Work Plus, said: "When I first met Ralph he was withdrawn and very easily stressed. After six weeks on a placement with Home Start, Ralph seemed like a different person. It was as if a light had been switched on.

"Young adults with Asperger's syndrome can be steady and reliable and take great pride in their work. They can make fantastic volunteers or employees - Ralph has proved it."