A MOBBERLEY mum has set up a group that she hopes will allow autistic children to make friends while enjoying one of their favourite past times.

The Engine Shed is a new monthly train club aimed at children with autism and their families, set up by Paddock Hill Lane resident Liz Syed, 37.

The mother of three, including six-year-old, Oscar, who has autism, decided to start the group to give her train mad son a chance to belong to a club and to meet like-minded friends.

“I was looking for somewhere to take him and if you are autistic a very common connection is that they like trains,” she said.

“I thought it would be a good idea if there was a club in the area they could go to and meet other children with the same interests.

“It is normally a nightmare to make sure they are happy but I thought to have something specific would be really good.

“It’s a great way for children like him to develop social and communication skills in a motivating setting; a place to watch, observe, play, talk and enjoy their hobby in a supportive environment.”

Model railway enthusiasts will bring their Hornby layouts to the session for children to enjoy and there will be lots of wooden, plastic and other trains for fun hands-on activities.

Children will be given the opportunity to play with lots of different types of train sets for all abilities, from Thomas the Tank Engine wooden and plastic sets to impressive Hornby lay-outs. Refreshments will be provided and parents will have a chance to relax and chat over a cup of tea while their children play.

The group will meet monthly at Chorley Village Hall, with the first session taking place between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday, January 29, 2011 – but before it starts Liz needs some help.

“I would like to appeal to anyone who has any unwanted train sets or toys that they would like to donate to the Engine Shed Train Club,” she said.

“Also if there any railway modelling enthusiasts who would like to come along and display their train lay-outs at the club or any local business who might like to sponsor the new venture that would be great.”

If you can help Liz out call her on 01565 872010, or email liz_syed@yahoo.com.

Talk about this on our website at knutsfordguardian.co.uk.