A lonely youngster with autism who has never had a birthday party – or even any friends to invite to one – was treated to a boisterous celebration by Luton’s Leagrave Scout Group when he turned 13.
Brandon Bird from Linnet Close was born with a rare genetic disorder and autism. The condition limits his social skills and his ability to make friends, as well as affecting his short term memory and his tolerance of certain foods.
It meant that companions have been few and far between and party-going was not an option.
The Scouts heard about Brandon via a blog from his mother Marissa who wrote: “It breaks my heart to know there is no-one outside our family to celebrate his birthday . . . his 13th birthday is a big deal and I want him to know how much he is loved.”
His case was also taken up Marissa’s friend Mary Sherwood, a Beaver Scout leader from Elstree.
Their challenge was to find some friends for Brandon and organise a special birthday party for him.
Leagrave Scout leader Gary Sturrock and his wife Jacky were roped in and their HQ at Southfield Primary School was decorated with bunting and balloons. The troop of 38 energetic young Scouts arranged some rowdy games while their parents cooked birthday cakes and provided snacks and soft drinks.
Everyone bombarded Brandon with cards – the first he has had in his lifetime – and the activities allowed him to interact with his new-found friends. He took part in a game of dodge ball and a knock-out hockey contest. Scout Finlay McKay said: “We wanted to show Brandon that we are a big happy family and we just hope he will join us to enjoy our mad adventures.”
Mum Marissa said she had been overwhelmed by their kindness. Now the birthday boy and his younger sister Rihanna have both asked to join the organisation. “It’s truly amazing,” said Marissa.