A MARRIED couple have both received British Empire Medals in the Queen's Birthday honours for their work in helping families impacted by autism.

Graham (also known as Harold) and Eira Heywood co-founded the Bolton Adult Autism Support (BAAS) in 2013.

They noticed a lack of provision for adults with autism as their eldest son, Julian, now 50 was diagnosed in later life.

Initially BAAS was supported by the council but funding was cut after a period of 10 months. However, in 2015 it was granted charitable status.

That year BAAS held a seminar on autism which attracted 175 delegates, two thirds of whom were parents or carers of those impacted by autism, while a third of them were experts in their field.

Since they began, they've worked closely with organisations across Greater Manchester to improve the understanding of autism, including working with the police to give talks to officers about dealing with adults with autism.

The couple, who've been married for 54 years and live in Sharples, were delighted to receive the honour.

Eira, 75, said: "I was totally surprised when I found out, it was very unexpected.

"We started this several years ago to help support people impacted by autism in Bolton.

"It was all due to my son who was only diagnosed just before his 40th birthday, I fought for him to get the support he needed for many, many years.

"For a long time autism was not fully understood, it's a hidden disability and everybody with autism is affected by it differently."

Graham, 76, and chairman of BAAS added: "I feel very proud to have received the award, but it did come as a complete surprise.

"We wouldn't be here without the support of many organisations and people, including Bolton Council and Bolton CVS, and our patron.

"We are also celebrating as we have been given National Lottery funding for a new coordinating for our befriending service."