Luke Dicker is a 19 year-old from Wiltshire who was named Young Citizen of the Year by Rotary International at a ceremony in Bournemouth in 2010.
It’s a major achievement for anyone, but Luke has ADHD and Aspergers Syndrome which means he found interaction difficult and led to him being expelled from school. With a little help, though, he managed to turn things around and is now a spokesman for children with autism. It was his eloquent public speaking that got him the award nomination.
In September 2007 he was given a place at Springfields Specialist School in Calne, where his life was turned round. He now mentors younger boys with similar problems at Springfields. That same year, his mother Jan Greenman wrote a book entitled ‘Life at the Edge’ about living with her son.
It’s a book that draws you into their world with humour, love and yet, at times, disturbing honesty. Luke and his sister Abbi share tips at the end of each chapter. It’s a comprehensive account, covering all aspects of his behaviour, his education (or the lack of it), the family’s fight to obtain specialist help, medical issues, family break-up, Luke’s expulsion, his brush with HM Customs when a smuggling attempt went ‘wrong’, his meeting with Nigel Mansell… and the inspirational head teacher who helped him turn his life around.
The Daily Mail published two full-length feature articles on the original self-published version of Life At the Edge in 2007 and 2009 entitled respectively My Son The Monster and My Escape from Life on Mars. Luke has been filmed several times by the BBC, including the Politics Show in February 2009 and was chauffeur driven to BBC TV Centre for a live interview on the BBC News Channel in September, 2010, after which he was thanked personally by Kevin Bakhurst, the controller of the BBC News Channel, for such a ‘great interview’.
Luke and Jan have spoken at Hull University, Royal United Bath Hospital, several conferences in Dorset, Reading, Bristol, Hampshire, Gloucester, to the Emergency Services Hampshire at the launch of the Autism Alert Card, at the Rotary Club of Great Britain, the Calne Chamber of Commerce and Luke also addressed a sports conference in Exeter with 10 Olympic medallists present. He met Prince Harry at the Wellchild awards ceremony at Lords Cricket Ground, where he nominated his headmaster for an award (which he won) and he was interviewed live on BBC TV in front of 2,000 people receiving his National Young Citizens Award from Konnie Huq. You can watch the BBC’s TV coverage of the award here.
Luke shared a platform with former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, in Telford, speaking to a conference of teachers from across the country about his labels and what they mean to him and in September, 2010, addressed 200 executive members of Nick Hornby’s charity, Treehouse, at the Arsenal Emirates Stadium in London.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his predecessor Gordon Brown have both signed 6 copies of the book for charity. Their message is that this story transcends politics. They both have personal experience of disability, so they understand.
“We must tolerate much that is odd and weak lest we lose much that is glorious and divine.’
HG Wells: The Works, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind, 1931