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An autism campaigner was moved to tears after his son led prayers at a special service on Sunday, after being told he would be unable to talk as a child.

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Seventeen-year-old Charin Corea led hundreds into the Lord’s Prayer on the eleventh Autism Sunday, at All Saints’ Church, Inmans Row, Woodford Green.

Charin’s parents, Ivan and Charika Corea, are stepping down from their active campaigning this year, after starting the UK Autism Foundation charity, based in George Lane, South Woodford, in 2000.

Ivan said: “It is an absolute miracle. I still remember the day many years ago when we were just beginning on this journey called autism, when a speech therapist came to our home and said that Charin would probably not talk.

“But we refused to give up and give in. Here we are, in the year that we are stepping back, hearing our son leading the Lord’s Prayer. It brings tears to my eyes.”

Among the people who attended the service, led by Rev Paul Harcourt, were the Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Muhammad Javed, Ilford North MP Lee Scott and the Rotary International Young Musician of the Year, Rebecca Leung.

The X Factor star, Scott James, who has Asperger’s syndrome, was also at the service and he sang Through My Eyes, which will be included on the first ever compilation album for autism.

After 12 years of “speaking out about autism” the Corea Family are now retiring from campaigning after gaining the support from successive prime ministers, the Royal Family and the Pope.

Ivan said: “I am so thrilled that Autism Sunday was trending [on Twitter]. Scott James broke the news to me and it was humbling that people from all over the world were tweeting in support of autism.

“This was yet another first and I want to thank everyone for using social media and speaking up for those who may not be able to speak up for themselves.”

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