Feb 25 2010 By Dan Coombs
HILLINGDON'S only school for autistic children is set to expand, after getting a helping hand from the owner of West Ham United.
David Sullivan, who used to own Birmingham City, owned the lease on the Yiewsley Grange site, and has agreed to sell it to Hillingdon Manor School.
The site will become a designated primary school for 50 children and there are hopes to open it as soon as July this year.
Anna Kennedy, who created the award winning special needs school, said: "I had spoken to David a year ago, and had been negotiating the lease with him since.
"The building had been sitting empty for eight years, but he agreed to release it early, he said he is going to keep an eye on the school, and may even donate equipment.
"I drive by the site every day, and always thought it would make a nice site for a school."
Hillingdon Manor School was created in 1999, after re-mortgaging her home and buying a derelict council building, in Uxbridge Road, Hillingdon.
Previously, her own two sons, who are both affected by autism, had been turned away by no fewer than 26 special needs schools.
She added: "This is a great development and will allow us to help even more children with autistic spectrum conditions.
"There is demand for suitable education and I am delighted we can provide this new facility."
Following a full refurbishment, Yiewsley Grange will open in July and hold eight classrooms, a hall, a therapy room, offices, and a pleasant outdoor area and garden for children to play.
Judith Azzopardi, headteacher, said: "With the acquisition of the new building, we are now heading for an exciting time of transition which requires careful planning and recruitment.
"The school is looking forward to developing further specialised facilities with the same autism friendly ethos and successful outcomes for our pupils and families."
Hillcrest Autism Services, who run Hillingdon Manor School, have also announced they have acquired Baston School, in Bromley, Kent, a former private girls school which closed last year, and re-open it as a school for autistic youngsters in September.