Hugh Morgan, Autism Cymru's chief executive, awarded OBE in New Year's Honours list|
ABERYSTWYTH, Wales: Hugh Morgan, the founder and chief executive of Autism Cymru, Wales's national charity for autism, was awarded an OBE in this year's New Year's Honours List.
Morgan founded Autism Cymru seven years ago with initial core-funding from the Shirley Foundation
In 1988, after public-sector work as public sector officer in charge, he became the first employee of Autism West Midlands where, as principal of the first residential resource for adults with autistic spectrum disorders in the West Midlands region, he then became the charity's founder executive in the mid-1990s.
He has a degree in psychology from Cardiff University, a Master of Medical Science degree from Birmingham University and a post-graduate certificate of qualification in social work from Warwick University, and was also originally a registered nurse for the mentally handicapped.
He commenced work in the learning disabilities and autism field back in 1975.
Morgan has also written several books on autism, including Adults with Autism: A Guide to Theory and Practice, which is published by Cambridge University Press and has since been published in several languages. He also co-founded and was co-editor of the Good Autism Practice journal published by the British Institute for Learning Disabilities.
Morgan said: "This honour came out of the blue, but I feel very privileged - it means a tremendous amount to Autism Cymru and, hopefully, for the autism movement in Wales. Since Autism Cymru has been in existence, we have persuaded Welsh Assembly Government Ministers to develop the world's first Government-led strategy for Autism, which will be implemented in April."
He is also a co-ordinator of a team seeking to establish the Wales Autism Research Centre and Wales's first professorial chair, in autism which starts in Cardiff University in September.
Morgan views his award as recognition for how far Autism Cymru has come since its inception in 2001.
He said: “It’s a great privilege to have been nominated by my peers for this honour. I think it is most important that the work of Autism Cymru is recognised through this award.”
Morgan believes Wales is becoming internationally regarded as a pioneering force in autism and its cause has been moved forward in the almost seven years the Mid Wales-based charity has been operating.
Wales is well placed to deal with the wind of change that is sweeping the country into 2008, according to Morgan.
“The Welsh Assembly Government’s ten-year national strategy development comes into effect in April – the first strategy of its kind in the world.”
Morgan is a co-ordinator of the Welsh Autism Resource Centre, which is due to be opened at Cardiff University in September.
“We are making exceptional progress in Wales,” said Morgan. “Wales is starting to be thought of worldwide as very progressive in the field.”
Morgan is also a co-founder of the Celtic Nations Autism Partnership, which in September 2007 launched a cross-Atlantic Autism Alliance Partnership with the Autism Society of America on Capitol Hill in Washington DC.
He revealed that Autism Cymru is looking to forge more partnerships with its Celtic colleagues in the New Year, while Morgan also has a vision for how the charity can move forward.
“In the short term, I would like to see every single primary, secondary and special school in Wales become autism -friendly and I would like to see a more co-ordinated effort between autism agencies throughout the UK."
Morgan is due to collect his honour in a few months' time.
(Sources: Autism Cymru, Cambrian Times, County Times, January 2, 2008)