Search

MBE for Asperger syndrome charity founder in Queen’s birthday honours

PUBLISHED: 08:37 09 June 2018 | UPDATED: 08:54 09 June 2018

Marcella Caterina Olive-Ballestra has been made an MBE Picture: William Olive

Marcella Caterina Olive-Ballestra has been made an MBE Picture: William Olive

Archant

A woman from Thurne has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of more than 20 years of service to people with Asperger syndrome.

The MBE recognises an outstanding achievement or service to the community that has a long-term, significant impact and serves as an example to others.

Marcella Caterina Olive-Ballestra, 72, was made an MBE for her work in founding the charity Asperger East Anglia.

Mrs Olive-Ballestra, who has Italian parents and was educated in the Netherlands, has lived in the village between Norwich and Great Yarmouth for more than 40 years.

She adopted a baby who was extremely challenging to raise, and it wasn’t until he was 14-years-old that he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.

Mrs Olive-Ballestra said: “He was an extremely difficult baby. The doctors said we were doing everything right as parents and nothing was wrong, but needless to say, he is now 37 and he has still got it.”

Following on from the difficulties she faced, Mrs Olive-Ballestra set out to help others in 1996.

She said: “We initially started with a helpline which we set up in our house, but people kept ringing late at night and it got quite intrusive.

“We eventually found a little office that was basically a cupboard at Charing Cross in Norwich.”

After much tireless work, the charity was officially established in 1998, becoming the first in the region of its kind.

Asperger East Anglia has gone on to help more than 34,000 people across East Anglia and Mrs Olive-Ballestra has been instrumental in organising the hundreds of fundraisers that have helped to raise the £300,000 needed each year to keep the charity running.

The charity has subsequently been used as an example for groups setting up in Liverpool and Shropshire.

But for Mrs Olive-Ballestra, the hard-earned MBE is all about the charity.

She said: “To be quite honest, for me it is more for the charity than myself. I’m more pleased that it is putting the charity in the spotlight because it’s not about me really, I’ve never done it for that reason.”

The charity has two shops in Beccles which gratefully receive donations to support their work offering assistance to those with Asperger syndrome.

To find out more about the charity, visit www.asperger.org.uk

Other News

A delayed motion looking to reduce period poverty in the Great Yarmouth borough is to be discussed once more by councillors.

The inquest into the death of a three-year-old girl who died after being thrown from an inflatable trampoline on Gorleston beach has been adjourned because a police report into the incident is not ready.

The head of a coastal hospital which is the only one in Norfolk not failing has announced she will leave.

13:11

Carpetright is considering further changes to its store portfolio across East Anglia as it handles stinging losses.

Most Read

Yesterday, 18:00

School trips usually involve taking children to see one of Shakespeare’s great plays or visiting a historic museum.

Read more

Plans for a former pub to be turned into a luxury tobacconist have been put under fire by a nearby health centre, with bosses arguing it would “give out entirely the wrong message”.

Read more
NHS
Yesterday, 11:42

Would you like to play a major part in restoring one of Great Yarmouth’s most historic tourist attractions to its former glory?

Read more
Great Yarmouth Borough Council
Yesterday, 09:21

A joyrider was arrested after crashing into a traffic bollard - and was found to be more than three times the legal driving limit when police breathalysed him.

Read more
Great Yarmouth police
Yesterday, 16:38

Tears of joy streamed down the face of staff members who watched the magical moment a woman, who was left paralysed by a stroke, stood on her own two feet for the first time in 15 years.

Read more
Gorleston

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 8°C

min temp: 1°C

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the Great
Yarmouth Mercury

e-edition today

Subscribe

Newsletter Sign Up

Great Yarmouth Mercury weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy