THE SWINDON Spitfires triumphed against an all-star ice hockey side on Saturday – in the process raising over a thousand pounds for autism care.

The new amateur side, which was founded last year by keen skaters, beat by five goals an opposing team crewed by players from sides across the South West, including Swindon’s own Wildcats.

When the final klaxon rang out over the ice, Spitfires fans screamed in delight as their boys celebrated a 10-5 victory over the SW Select 16.

The charity match, which consisted of three bouts of play each lasting 20 minutes, was organised to support charity the National Autistic Society.

Swindon Spitfires manager Simon Bellamy’s seven-year-old son, Luca, was born with the condition.

Simon, 35, said: “He’s an amazing boy – very clever, very bright. He surprises us every day.

“Life [with a child with autism] is very challenging, but it can be rewarding. In general life we have to put a lot more thought into everything we do – going to the shops, holidays, everything.”

His teammates have rallied round, with the Spitfires spending the last three months setting up the charity match.

Player-coach Bradley Edginton, 35, said: “I’ve played ice hockey for 25 years. It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s one of those sports that once you get into you can’t get out. Everyone’s [part of] a big family.”

Professional and amateur players from top south west sides lent their support – and sticks – to the fundraiser game. Firms, including Great Western Railways, donated top prizes – including train tickets and autism-friendly holidays.

The fundraising effort meant that minutes before the game began autistic tot Luca was carried out onto the ice in dad Simon’s safety-padded arms – helping to present a cheque for £1,250 to the National Autistic Society.

Eric Kent, supporter fundraising officer for the National Autistic Society, accepted the cheque.

He told the Adver: “700,000 people in the country are autistic. But it’s not just them who are affected. When we take into account family members it’s way over two million people who are affected.”

A developmental disability, autism affects how people experience the world around them. Music might sound louder or lights seem brighter.

The National Autistic Society runs telephone helplines, schools, care homes and lobbies politicians on issues affecting autistic people.

Eric said of the donation: “It’s tremendous. It helps in two ways. It raises funds, but just as importantly it raises an awareness and understanding of autism.”

Watching the game was Becci Taylor, a Toothill mum to two autistic children – and keen ice hockey fan.

Becci, 35, said: It’s hard, it’s difficult. You can’t do things like normal families do.” But she was struck dumbfounded when son Mason told her three special words six months ago.

“He said ‘love you mummy’. I can’t tell you how it made me feel. Prior to that he’d never spoken one word.”