WIRRAL charity Autism Together has been chosen as the official Christmas charity partner at Cheshire Oaks.

On Wednesday, November 7 members of Autism Together's fundraising team was invited to switch on the lights in front of thousands of shoppers in the same week the charity celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Founded in 1968 by local families as the Wirral Society for Autistic Children, the newly-named Autism Together now employs one thousand staff members and offers services and support to people with autism across Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales.

Thomas Rimmer, 13, who has autism and takes part in many of Autism Together’s social groups for young people, was a special guest at the event, pressing the button to turn on the lights for the 2018 festive period.

Thomas' mum Melanie said: “We would like to thank Autism Together and Cheshire Oaks for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"Thomas began his diagnosis process at the age of six, and has high anxiety related to his conditions.

"He was so excited when he found out he would be switching on the Christmas lights and tried to put all his worries aside as he knew he had a very important job to do.

"Thomas adores everything about Christmas and had such an amazing time at the event.”

The charity will then be based at the foot of Europe’s largest walk-in artificial tree across the Christmas period, giving advice and collecting donations for its Future 50 Appeal which aims to raise £2.5million for an autism assessment and diagnostic centre.

Entrance into the tree is free however a £1 donation is suggested to help the charity’s appeal.

Fundraising manager at Autism Together Rick Myers told the Globe: “Everyone at Autism Together is delighted to be the beneficiary of this year’s Christmas Tree at Cheshire Oaks, particularly in this important anniversary year.

“We really appreciate the generous support of all the customers at Cheshire Oaks and wish them all a very merry Christmas and happy new year.”

There will also be a dedicated autism-friendly Christmas shopping day on December 4, where families can book to have dinner with Santa in a calm and relaxing environment.

For more information on how to book visit https://www.mcarthurglen.com/en/outlets/uk/designer-outlet-cheshire-oaks/

The charity is also looking for more volunteers to help out across the festive period, so if you would like to help with bucket collections at the Christmas tree or at any of Autism Together’s other events, please contact chloe.jones@autismtogether.co.uk