Andover residents with special needs have attended a prom to celebrate their time in school and further education.

Students aged between 18 and 25 came together to commemorate their achievements and have a good time following an extraordinary year in education. They were joined by their peers who graduated last year, their previous event having been called off due to Covid.

Sara Goodson, from #Needs Too, which hosted the event, told the Advertiser: “It was an absolutely fabulous evening and so wonderful to see so many smiling happy faces after an incredibly tough 18 months.”

#NeedsToo is a campaign group on disabilities rights, and was set up by a group of Andoverians concerned following budget cuts to services that are vital for the disabled.

As part of its work, it collaborates with other groups in the area such as Andover and District Mencap. It provides practical and emotional support, advice and information for parents and carers of children and young adults with complex learning difficulties and disabilities.

Recently, #NeedsToo become involved in a campaign to allow an Andover cottage to be converted into a residential home after alleged “discrimination” by Test Valley Borough Council.

Aside from its campaigning work, it also works to provide social activities and outings for 18-25 year olds, with the group saying that those with disabilities in this age group find it more difficult to access the facilities that others of their age do.

One of these is celebrating the traditional rite of passage, the prom, at April’s Farm in Upper Enham on Friday, July 2. The young people, their parent and carers were joined by the CEO of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Kerry Hearsey MBE, who made and donated personalised champagne flutes for each leaver.

Meanwhile, Cllr Iris Andersen, the Mencap President, and Kevin Rush, who fundraises for a range of charities, were also present to show their support for #NeedsToo and the many people it supports.