Queen’s photographer, from Highgate, to launch autism service

A photographer who took the Queen’s official Diamond Jubilee portraits has revealed his son’s traumatic teenage years inspired him to help launch a new autism service.

John Swannell, 65, of North Hill, Highgate, gave a talk about his life photographing rock stars and royalty to support the National Autistic Society at the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution event opened by the charity’s patron, Jane Asher.

She said: “John and his wife Marianne gave us such a fantastic evening, their support means so much to the NAS.”

Mr Swannell has raised �30,000 to help the charity to set up a service to ease the transition from childhood to adulthood for those with autism, inspired by his 24-year-old son, Charlie, who has Asperger’s Syndrome.

He said: “When kids with autism reach 16 or 17, there’s really not much help there for them. Charlie had a really traumatic time as a teenager and it was really hard for us too.

“My wife said we’ve got to do something for other people.”

The charity needs �100,000 to launch the Transforming Lives scheme to provide 24-hour online advice and a phoneline.