News & Events

Autism and The New Poetry Society

Posted on 25th September 2018

Autism Initiatives' Liz Thornber shares how it felt to be in the audience when Henry Normal and Pete Ramskill took to the stage to support autism ...

The Atkinson studio is intimate and atmospheric. Small votives flicker in the centre of circular tables and people murmur, soft chatter, amongst the muted tones of Gaelic instrumental music as we wait for the show to start.

During these moments, when others might become introspective readying for their moment on stage, Henry Normal makes his way around the venue taking time to greet everyone who have taken their seats early. His direct nature disarming and charming in equal quantities. There is no arm’s length, them and us, performer and audience barrier now. Now there is just us – we are with him and we are part of something bigger than us all.

This is indeed a New Poetry Society – a society in which we all feel valued and one where language creates melodies and rhythms speaking to our senses and our souls.

Henry Normal and Pete Ramskill’s show – New Poetry Society arrived in Southport on Saturday 15th September with the poets raising vital funds for Autism Initiatives and The Atkinson Development Trust.

The event held in The Atkinson on Lord Street was billed as follows:

This uplifting and passionate performance will include stories, jokes and poems so cunningly conceived you’ll go home whistling them.

It was better than that.

Southport born poet, artist, sculptor and designer Pete Ramskill shared a selection of readings from his new poetry collection during the first half, concluding his set after the interval with crowd pleasing anecdotes and poems inspired by his home town. 

The Atkinson Patron, comedy writer (of TV and film including The Royle Family, Philomena, Gavin & Stacey and Alan Partridge) and BBC Radio 4 star Henry Normal brought tears of laughter and moments of heartfelt poignancy as he spoke about his family life and his autistic son, Johnny, and treated the crowd to a selection of poems from his writings across the years.

This evening took me away from everything. Immersed me in emotions that ranged from roaring laughter to choked back tears and I asked Mr. Normal why he had chosen to support Autism Initiatives through this performance:

"I was very honoured to be made Patron of the Atkinson last year and enjoyed being part of the official opening ceremony for the new cafe at the Atkinson run by Autism Initiatives. Having met the people involved and understanding the great work they do I'm keen to raise awareness and a bit of cash if possible to help. I've found that when you care for people it's a win win situation. Everyone feels the benefit." Henry Normal

Henry Normal’s latest book ‘A Normal Family’ (2018) is a book for anyone whose life has been touched by autism – a collection of snapshots in the life of a boy, now a young man, and his father. It’s about the hope, the despair, and the messy, honest, sometimes comical day-to-day world of autism, and it will be the go-to book for anyone faced with a daunting diagnosis, as well as a wonderful, warm book about the unconditional, unconventional love between a father and a son.

Find out how you could support Autism Initiatives Find out more about Henry Normal