AN INSPIRATIONAL Bournemouth woman has been shortlisted for an international award celebrating her work supporting people with autism.

Joely Colmer, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, received the nomination for the prestigious World Autism Community Achievement Award at the ANCA World Autism Festival.

However she cannot afford to go to the event in Vancouver, Canada and has now called on the public for help.

The 24-year-old, said: "Words simply cannot express my gratitude at being seen as worthy of a nomination for such a prestigious award but without help, I simply won’t be able to go."

Joely, of Winton, was born with Asperger Syndrome and a range of medical problems including being partially deaf and unable to speak until she was seven years old.

At mainstream school she suffered in the hands of bullies.

However testament to her positivity, Joely chose to turn her negative experiences around to help herself and hundreds of others.

She dedicates her time to voluntary work raising awareness about the issues surrounding autism including taking part in local and national events, workshops and public speaking. Joely has won prestigious awards such as the National YMCA Volunteer of the Year Award and being recognised by David Cameron with a UK Point of Light Award.

Joely, who launched her own website, now needs £3,500 to fund her trip to the World Autism Festival where she has also been asked to give a speech, present awards and workshops to educate professionals and inspire others who have autism.

She said: “ The hyperventilation, the tears of utter joy that poured down my face when I found out I'd been nominated. I finally realised that I am not worthless, like my bullies would like me to believe but that I am making real change for the autistic community. The thought of attending the World Autism Festival, learning and being inspired at the world leading experts and inspiring people, is mind blowing.

“It is a once in a life time opportunity. Attending would enable me to achieve my dream of making a real difference to the vulnerable people I help.

"Having an ‘invisible’ disability is extremely isolating and after a while you start to lose faith in yourself and completely shut yourself away from society. I knew that with a little bit of support, other people in a similar situation to me would be able to see the gift within their disability and reach their full potential."

The World Autism Festival takes place from September 30 until October 5.

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