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Autistic boy, 14, befriends RAF hero, 97, through art – ‘kindness finds its way’

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Jack Berry, 14, who is also selectively mute and has epilepsy, illustrated his own aircraft book during lockdown for charity.

The project led the Sunderland lad to get to know the RAF’s Red Arrows, and Lancaster Bomber wireless operator John Meller, 97.

He and Mr Meller met at International Bomber Command Centre, in Lincs, to commemorate the 85th Anniversary in July of Bomber Command’s formation.

Mr Meller said their friendship is “proof that kindness finds its way across any obstacle”.

Jack — who was recognised with a Point of Light honour for volunteering by the Prime Minister — has an interest in aircraft as his grandfather worked on Concorde.

His mum Sara, 41, a care assistant, told the Daily Express: “Jack was recently diagnosed with epilepsy. That, and lockdowns, should have made the past 12 months particularly miserable.

“But the way the aviation community and the RAF wrapped their arms around my son has been absolutely wonderful.”

She said that meeting the Red Arrows, who gave him a personal flypast, was emotional: “Jack said it made him feel ‘like one of them’ even though his epilepsy means he can’t currently fly. He’s going back to school a different boy.”

The book, Flying High in the Sunlit Silence, features poetry alongside Jack’s drawings.

Three charities — the SSAFA’s Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum, the International Bomber Command Centre and Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association — are receiving a percentage of its sales.

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