A CLASSICAL charity concert will be staged in Thornbury to mark World Autism Awareness Month.

The free event in the town's baptist church has been organised by Gemma Cao, 29, who works with people affected by Asperger syndrome.

She is a support worker at the National Autistic Society's (NAS) Pinecroft residential service in Alveston and is currently awaiting a diagnosis of the condition of her own six-year-old son, Daniel.

Gemma said: "More than one in 100 people in the UK have autism, yet misconceptions about the condition are still far too common.

"As it’s a hidden disability, the needs of many people, like my son Daniel, aren’t always recognised. He may attend a mainstream school but he really struggles in social situations, which can make day-to-day life extremely challenging.

“Awareness of autism has definitely increased, particularly over the past few years, but more needs to be done to help people like Daniel to reach their full potential. Understanding and support can make all the difference.”

Gemma has invited Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb to speak at the concert, which takes place at 7.30pm on Saturday, April 5, and will raise money for the NAS through donations made on the day.

There will also be a free raffle, with prizes such as meal and champagne vouchers donated by local businesses.

Mr Webb said: "The concert is shaping up to be a great event which will raise awareness of an important and pressing cause.

“Gemma does vital work supporting local people affected by Asperger syndrome at Pinecroft and I’m delighted to be able to support her wider efforts to increase understanding of the condition. I hope that as many people from around Thornbury and Yate as possible will attend the concert and help us mark World Autism Awareness Month.”

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, a lifelong disability which affects how a person communicates with and relates to others.

Dave Boorman, head of supporter fundraising at the NAS, said: “It’s always humbling to see the determination and hard work that NAS supporters like Gemma put into creating a better world for people with autism.

“Without fundraising events like this, we wouldn’t be able to continue our work supporting people affected by the disability and helping them to lead the life they choose.”

The awareness campaign runs throughout April.