Proud ambassador for autism Jake switches on the Preston Christmas lights for 2023

Posted on - 22nd November, 2023 - 6:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Christmas, Flag Market, Leyland, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Proud Preston, South Ribble News
Switch On Star Jake Ogden
2023’s Switch On Star Jake Ogden Pic: Preston BID

Proud Leyland lad Jake Ogden has switched on the city’s Christmas lights for 2023.

Jake, who has autism, won the Switch On Star competition in recognition of his tireless charity work.

Jake was nominated by friend Michael Farrow, who said: “Jake is an inspirational young man. He has autism but in no way does this stop him giving to the community.

“Jake volunteers his spare time as a youth worker with other young people with special educational needs, as well as volunteering for his local community charity shop.”

Jake was invited on stage at the Christmas Lights Switch On at the Flag Market on Saturday (18 November).

He spoke to the event hosts before joining famous faces to light up the city.

The finalise of the Preston Christmas Lights Switch On Pic: Preston BID
The finalie of the Preston Christmas Lights Switch On Pic: Preston BID

Speaking about the experience, Jake said: “It felt amazing to win as my mate Michael rang me and told me about it and I had no idea he had even nominated me, let alone won it!

“I am proud to be an ambassador for people with autism. I’m glad that I got chosen, I’ve had a tough couple of years so that’s what was needed.

“I enjoyed spending time at Preston with my sister Karis, her best friend Georgina, her friend Becky and her partner Lance and my auntie Nicola and her partner Dwayne.

“It was a privilege having my picture taken with the Mayor of Preston. I shook Anthony Cotton’s hand and he said ‘nice to meet you’. He also said ‘well done Jake’ after I did my speech.”

Jake currently volunteers at Unite and The Children’s Society in Leyland. He has nearly finished writing a book with his family about living with autism, which he hopes to have published soon.

Highly commended nominees

It was a difficult decision to choose a winner from such a fantastic range of nominations. Here are our highly commended nominees.

Steven and Claire Brown: Steven and Claire have raised thousands for charity this year after finding out Steven has a rare cancer. He is battling the condition and trialling new treatments, and never gives up. Claire has done 100 skips a day and 31 peaks in 30 days of June this year. They have gone on a mission to try to raise awareness and money for cancer research.

Joe Gibson: Joe was recently on BBC’s Ambulance, demonstrating the hard work, relentlessness and struggles of working within North West Ambulance Service. Joe is now studying to become a paramedic after working in dispatching – deciding where the ambulances go – for five years. Joe worked hard to raise enough funds for a new kit bag for emergency first responders.

Dave James Williams: Dave has a big heart and likes to help everyone. He has a continued dedication to the Windrush community response and local communities. His shows passion and care for his mum he looks after with his family who originally came from Dominica.

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