A young boy from a school in Kendal has won a national competition after creating an art piece about his autism.

Josh Turnes, who has been going to Whinfell School for 18 months, took part in the CareTech Arts and Crafts Awards 2023.

This year's theme for entrants was 'My art is my voice’, with Josh creating an armadillo mask.

Head of Education Michelle Turner said: "Josh chose to create a mask to represent that he, like many autistic people, sometimes feel the need to hide behind a mask to make his voice heard. 

"The shape of Josh’s mask represents his favourite animal, an armadillo, and the style and patterns were inspired by traditional Mayan animal masks."

The Westmorland Gazette: Josh at the awards ceremony in NorthamptonJosh at the awards ceremony in Northampton (Image: Michelle Turner)

From over 260 entries, Josh was selected as the regional winner and invited to an awards ceremony to collect his award. 

Travelling down to Northampton with Mrs Turner and his art teacher they attended the ceremony at Whittlesbury Hall.

There, they were able to enjoy afternoon tea and browse a gallery of all the entries from across the country, before the surprise of Josh's victory was announced.

He said: "It was probably the best day of my life - when I realised I had won the national award, I was on the verge of tears.

"I am so proud of myself, and my prize of my art kit and £200 is amazing."

The Westmorland Gazette: The armadillo mask that captured the judges' heartsThe armadillo mask that captured the judges' hearts (Image: Michelle Turner)

Whinfell School is an establishment that offers education and care for boys and young men aged between 11 and 19 who have struggled in school in the past.

This includes those with autism or autistic traits, those with learning difficulties or those with previous reports of challenging behaviour.

Mrs Turner added: "Josh is an enthusiastic, creative and hard-working young person who continues to achieve extraordinary things every day.

"His artwork is absolutely stunning and I was so proud to see him collect his national award."

A gallery will soon be put up at the school displaying the artwork and anyone interested in visiting can call 01539 723322.