Fundraising is flying high, with autistic youngster using art to communicate

Using art as an emotional outlet during lockdown, one young boy from Sunderland has turned his passion for art and aviation into a successful book; all whilst raising money for Armed Forces charities.

Jack Berry

The height of lockdown in 2020 was an emotionally draining time, and 13-year-old Jack Berry turned to drawing as a form of therapy to help release his emotions. Spurred on by his favourite aircraft the Lancaster, part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), and the pilots that participated in WWII, Jack started to draw.

EMOTIONS

“I have always loved aircraft and started painting them to help me express myself,” says Jack.

“Drawing has helped me to process my emotions. It has also enhanced my communication through my own creative expressions, my imagination is improved, and I have a greater abstract of thinking about things that are of great importance to me.”

For Jack, who is severely autistic and has depression, anxiety and is selectively mute, drawing has been a significant outlet.

“Creative art and painting has provided Jack with some emotional stability and a healthier way for him to express how he is feeling,” explains Jack’s mum, Sara.

After Sara posted some of Jack’s paintings online, the drawings were celebrated by many in the Armed Forces community, even racing all the way to pole position with Formula 1 favourites.

STAR QUALITY

Now Jack’s drawings have been put into print in his book, Flying High in the Sunlit Silence. Cementing Jack’s adoration for aviation, the title of the book is inspired by a poem originally written by a Spitfire pilot.

Flying High in the Sunlit Silence features Jack’s drawings alongside copy written by pilots about their experiences of flying, plus the history of each plane and helicopter.

Contributors to the book also include F1 driver Lando Norris, former driver David Coulthard, and Red Arrows squadron leader Adam Collins.

Jack enthuses: “I really like to see my drawings beside what the pilots have written, I have been able to use my drawings with the pilots as an alternative to verbal communication.

“When my favourite pilot, Flight Lieutenant Seb Davey, said he was proud of me I felt happy because I am doing something good. When Lando Norris, wrote his part for my book, I was so excited.”

Jack is raising money for a range of charities, including SSAFA, the Armed Force’s Charity’s Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum through sales of the book, which will provide the chosen charities with vital funding.

Jack’s efforts have also seen him receive a Point of Light award from the Prime Minister, given to outstanding volunteers.

Jack is passionate about aviation

“I would like to see the monies raised help others that have been affected by the virus,” Jack adds.

Sara also hopes the book and fundraising will help to raise awareness of the autistic spectrum, and how drawing has helped Jack to find away to communicate.

You can get Flying High in the Sunlit Silence on Amazon. Learn more about SSAFA’s Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum here.