‘A credit to our industry’: teen with autism and his campaigning mum hailed at awards

A teenager with autism, along with his campaigning mum, have been hailed at a glittering awards ceremony.

Monday, 21st February 2022, 8:18 am
Updated Monday, 21st February 2022, 8:34 am

Zak Martin, of South Normanton, has seen his mental health and well-being boosted thanks to his work experience placements with leading highways company Costain.

Zak, who is very interested in engineering, first met the Costain team at an event in 2013 when he was nine-years-old.

Last week, Zak and his mum Marie – who has spoken of the ‘absolute fight’ she has faced to get her son the education and support he deserves – attended the National Highways Industry Awards, courtesy of Costain.

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Zak with Mal Bell, a director at Costain.

Marie said: “Zak and myself got a special shout out for his fantastic achievements with his work experience and also for our campaign to raise disability awareness in the workplace.

“They very much consider Zak to be part of their team – it’s a real feelgood factor and gives young people and parents hope too.

“It promotes true inclusion and breaking down barriers for disability.

“I’m also doing lots of ambassador work for disability via Twitter and they acknowledged that at the awards too.

Derbyshire's Marie and Zak Martin at the National Highways Industry Awards.

“It was a complete surprise – we had no idea we would feature in the ceremony.”

At the event, Costain bosses described Zak as a ‘credit to our industry’.

“He’s going to make an excellent engineer,” they said.

There was a massive round of applause and lots of smiles for amazing Zak – who even joined a band on stage during the event to confidently rock along to Livin’ On A Prayer.

Zak is on the left here.

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Zak and Richard Paddey, of Costain.