A retired teacher who dedicated her career to helping children with autism has won an award for her “exceptional” efforts.

Bozena Marczyk, of Mill Hill, received the Educational Professional award from the National Autistic Society.

The 60-year-old began her career teaching autistic children in 1977, and went on to use her skills to train other teachers and set up the Bridge Outreach service.

She has also trained teachers on how to support students with autism and the service now supports autistic children in 55 schools across England.

During her years, her knowledge of the condition and the passion and patience she showed for the job astounded her fellow colleagues.

Despite retiring, Ms Marczyk has not stopped working and regularly travels all over the world to share her expertise at conferences.

She said “It’s a real honour to win this prestigious award.  Our view of autism has come such a long way since I began working in the field and I am proud to have been involved.   

"Above all, I think the award really belongs to the hundreds of children and young people with autism whom it has been my privilege to know and who have enriched my life immeasurably.”

Ms Marczyk was nominated by former colleague Sarah Tyce and beat two other nominees to win the accolade.

She added: “I’d like to thank Sarah for nominating me and all my friends and colleagues at Harborough School and the Bridge School for supporting me over the years.”

Carol Povey, director of The National Autistic Society's Centre for Autism, said: "Bozena should be commended for standing out from a truly exceptional shortlist.”