Founder of Winslow based Puzzle Centre awarded MBE for services to young people

The founder of a Winslow based charity has been awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Alexandra Stanyer, the founder and CEO of the Puzzle Centre Trust was awarded the accolade in recognition of her services to young people with autism.

Alexandra Stanyer, the CEO of the Puzzle Centre has been awarded an MBE

Alexandra Stanyer, the CEO of the Puzzle Centre has been awarded an MBE

Alex, a teacher with more than 35 years experience in the field of special education, originally set up the Puzzle Centre in two rooms of her Winslow home in 2001.

Catering for just 10 children in its first year, the charity has grown to support more than 60 children and families every year.

They expanded to additional premises in Middle Claydon in 2006 and the charity now trains around 150 practitioners each year across the region both nationally and sometimes internationally.

Alex said: "I originally set up the Puzzle Centre because I felt there was a big gap in special needs provision dating back to when I worked at Bucks County Council as a pre-school teacher.

"I also worked as part of a team at Stoke Mandeville that diagnosed young children with autism.

"It is not easy to signpost people in the right direction but I felt I had the skills and the qualities needed.

"It was a sad state of affairs but I felt that not enough was being done to help children with autism."

The Puzzle Centre provides a specialist nursery for children aged two to five years and an outreach service to support children aged up to 11 years.

Alex said she could not believe the growth and popularity of the centre - which has visitors all over the UK and the world, including from as far afield as Mexico and Hong Kong.

Alex said: "I am absolutely thrilled to receive this award which is a great honour for me personally, but also reflects the hard work of the outstanding staff and trustees that have been instrumental to our success as a charity supporting families and children with autism and other communication difficulties.

"It has been a great privilege and a joy to work with hundreds of wonderful children and families over the last 18 years and I thank them for all that they have taught me.

"I count myself as very lucky to have found a career that is both interesting and enormously rewarding."

Going forward the Puzzle Centre has plans to build a new, national centre for excellence in early years autism which will enable it to cater for many more children and families as well as train more teachers, therapists and early years practitioners.

Alex added: "I hope that this award helps to raise the profile of the charity and that we can continue to go from strength to strength."

Graham Wylie, the Puzzle Centre's chair of trustees said: "The drive and determination of Alex has been, and continues to be, the foundation for Puzzle Centre’s achievements over the last 18 years.

"Alex has established a reputation for her expertise in early years autism and her work is recognised nationally and internationally as being of an exceptional standard.

"Puzzle Centre parents, colleagues at Puzzle, the other trustees and professionals in the field of autism all recognise the very special contribution Alex has made and continues to make in this area.

"We are all delighted that she has received this honour which she richly deserves."