13-year old learner Eddie earned a standing ovation on the West End stage on Saturday having performed to 600 people at the Mermaid Theatre.
Eddie was nominated by LVS Oxford to play the violin at Autism’s Got Talent having developed his confidence and encouraged his talent since he joined when the school opened in September 2014. Just 24 acts were chosen from a rigorous audition process, and Eddie stepped on stage alongside acts such as singers, guitarists, dancers and magicians from as far afield as America, Croatia, Sweden and Canada.
The show, in its fifth year, is a celebration of autism talent and with LVS Oxford’s ethos to develop its learners to have the confidence and skills to lead happy, independent lives it was a natural fit to want Eddie to show his potential. Eddie said: “I’m really pleased to be able to represent LVS Oxford. The best bit of the day was watching other people perform as they have shown what people with autism can do and have encouraged me to play more. I already want to come back next year as I have proved to myself if I want to do something I can do it, and do it well”.
After a nerve-wracking wait - Eddie was 23rd on out of the 24 acts! - and accompanied on stage by his violin teacher Noriko Tsuzaku and his assistance dog Harmony, Eddie played a rendition of The New Round O on his violin, and passed the test to rapturous applause. His mother Bev noted how far Eddie has come, saying: “Eddie is a lot calmer now, and can achieve so much more at home too. At mainstream primary school we were just getting by day to day, but now he is so much more receptive as at LVS Oxford he is far more relaxed. He made a small mistake today which in the past would have been the end of the performance for Eddie, but now he has the confidence and belief to overcome obstacles”.
Dancer met dancer at the show as Eddie was introduced to Strictly Come Dancing star Robin Windsor, friends with show organiser and autism campaigner Anna Kennedy, who was delighted to meet Eddie and was full of praise for his performance. Robin said: “Eddie was absolutely fantastic tonight. It is so amazing what music and dance can do for people on the autism spectrum – it can really enhance their lives”.
It is not just Eddie who will benefit from his confidence-boosting performance on stage, with his efforts a source of inspiration to his classmates. LVS Oxford’s Head of Centre Louisa Allison-Bergin said: “Eddie was fantastic and we are all so proud of him. What he has done today is something other learners at the school can draw inspiration from and aspire to/ knowing they can achieve whatever they set their sights on. We are also delighted to be part of such a prestigious event in the world of autism”.
Eddie hopes to follow in the footsteps of a band from LVS Oxford’s sister school LVS Hassocks, in West Sussex, who enjoyed acclaim at Autism’s Got Talent last year and went on to play a succession of other events having gained a taste for fame.
You can watch Eddie’s performance at Autism’s Got Talent here.
Parents and carers speak positively about the ways in which staff promote positive behaviour. One said "staff are very caring, they talk to students positively and handle things fairly"