A GROUP which began life as a small, virtual social media group but now has over 100 members celebrates its second anniversary today.
The success of Huntly ASDtitude, a support group for families with children affected by autism and ADHD has exceeded all expectations of its founding members.
On Sunday it is holding a Christmas fair at Huntly Golf Club with a selection of stalls from local craft workers and businesses.
Annika Loethe, who heads up the group, told the Huntly Express that the group had just gone from strength to strength.
She said: "In May we launched a crowdfunding appeal in order to become a formally constituted group, which the Huntly Express publicised. We were looking to raise £200 so that we could open a bank account, order some leaflets and establish a petty cash fund.
"We more than tripled our goal and were absolutely amazed at the support shown to us from the local community and local businesses – it was fantastic, and so humbling. Since then, we have gone from strength to strength.
"Thanks to local shoppers in Tesco, we won the £4000 Bags of Help grant, receiving over 10,000 votes. The support was absolutely incredible and we plan to use that cash to buy sensory toys and equipment for our groups and activities."
The group has a busy programme and has hosted autism friendly discos, regular Lego clubs and extra activities during school holidays in addition to its regular support group sessions.
In recognition of the support from the community the group arranged and funded an autism awareness seminar which was attended by over 60 people, including five pupils from The Gordon Schools who were interested to learn more about the condition.
The group co-hosts the monthly quiz at the Crown and benefits from the proceeds.
A major milestone last week was being granted charitable status.
Annika added: "We continue to be amazed by the level of interest and support. Recently we were contacted out of the blue by the Tartan Army Children's Charity, to invite us to a party at Pittodrie next Friday where we will be one of five north-east charities who will receive £2000.
"One of their ambassadors had put our group forward for the grant as they wished to support the valuable work we are doing. Due to the continued and enormous local support it looks like our third year will be equally fantastic."
People can keep up to date with the group via its public Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HuntlyASDitude