After 10 years of dedicated service, BAS founder Kate Laine-Toner is leaving the charity.
Kate set up BAS in June 2012, around the time that her daughter Emily, then two years old, was diagnosed with autism. Kate had recently moved to Bristol and wanted to create a way for parents and carers of autistic children to share information, advice and support. ‘I realised that every parent knows something someone else doesn’t know,’ says Kate. ‘If we aren’t all talking to each other, that information just stays with that one person.’
Kate began running support group meetings and set up a Facebook group. Bristol Autism Support grew quickly and over the years has held hundreds of support group meetings, courses, family events, children’s activities and wellbeing sessions. The Facebook group now has nearly 3,000 members.
On why she feels that now is the right time to step down, Kate said, ’10 years is a long time! It’s time to hand over the reigns, but more importantly I want to spend more time with Emily and branch out into other things, like writing and training.’
BAS became a charity in 2019 and since then Kate has slowly handed over many of her tasks. There is now a strong team that manages all of the admin, volunteer management and finance tasks, as well as the board of trustees who oversees the day to day running of the charity.
‘I have been a nearly constant presence in BAS for the past 10 years, at meetings, courses and on Facebook,’ Kate says. ‘Now I am not only handing over the charity to our amazing team but also to the parents and carers we support. I always hope that parents will come for support for themselves but then stay to support others. Please carry on where I leave off – share your knowledge, support and advice with each other. Cheer on others’ successes and lift up those who are low.’
Kate has put in over 10,000 volunteer hours in the past 10 years and raised over £100,000 for the charity. In March 2022 she was awarded a British Citizens’ Award for volunteering and in June 2022 lead the charity to a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
She will be sadly missed but our staff, trustees and strong team of volunteers will carry on her legacy for years to come.