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Autistic Sunderland Teen Illustrates Charity Aviation Book

January 26, 2021

A teenage aviation enthusiast with autism has illustrated a book in aid of military charities after using art as an emotional outlet during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jack Berry, from Sunderland, who is also selectively mute, began drawing planes last summer.

Flying High in the Sunlit Silence depicts aircraft including Lancaster bombers, Spitfires and Tornados.

Red Arrows squadron leader Adam Collins described his work as “inspirational”.

Details explaining the history of each plane and helicopter, written by pilots and military experts, accompany Jack’s illustrations.

Formula 1 driver Lando Norris, Red Bull designer Adrian Newey and ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard, who is now a commentator for the sport, have also contributed to the book.

Jack’s mum, Sara Berry, said he had been inspired by the lockdown efforts of Captain Tom Moore, who last year raised millions of pounds for the NHS.

With an initial interest in planes stemming from his grandfather’s work on Concorde, Jack’s fascination was cemented by trips to airshows and the Battle of Britain Flight Memorial Visitor Centre in Lincoln.

“He wants to know everything about aircraft and he’s so engaged with it so he wants to show his appreciation to the pilots,” Ms Berry said.

“He’s always drawn and will do it either to calm himself down or as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to someone.

“The RAF and the services have opened their arms and accepted Jack for who he is. I think that’s really important.

“The pandemic has been draining for me as a parent and for Jack, but this has given us a chance to bond.”

Squadron leader Collins said Jack’s illustrations “capture the themes” of the Red Arrows’ recent 100th anniversary – commemorate, celebrate and inspire.

Three charities chosen by the youngster – SSAFA’s Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum, International Bomber Command Centre and Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association – will receive a percentage of sales.

An e-book will be available from Monday to tie in with Jack’s 14th birthday, with a print version set to be available shortly afterwards.

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