An 11-year-old autistic boy who was banned from having his picture taken at school – is now modelling for River Island, H&M and Land Rover.
Alfie Aldridge was born with high functioning autism which means he finds it difficult to work in groups of his own age and will often become aggressive.
His dad, Gary Aldridge, 50, claims his primary school said Alfie could not take part in plays or have his picture taken.
He claims the school assumed they wouldn’t be able to control him properly.
But Gary says after deciding to change primary schools to specialist Larwood School, in Stevenage, Herts., at the age of six, Alfie has thrived in his education and his modelling.
Gary, who has split from Alfie’s mum, adds: “I was told that Alfie can’t have his school photo taken.
“I admit he was a handful – but we just didn’t know he was being held back.
“It really stressed me out, they just didn’t have the resources and was just left, really.
“He lost the best of two years of his life.
“But now, he just seems different – he has grown into the boy he is.”
Whilst Alfie was attending Larwood School, they noticed a big change in him and joined him to Britton Performing school in Letchworth – he has since performed in Gordon Craig Theatre staring in the Rhythm of Life.
It was during this time, Alfie was recommended to a modelling agency after an actor and friend of the family, John Christian, saw a twinkle in his eye.
Businessman Gary, of Letchworth, Herts., said: “When my friend John was speaking to me he spotted the potential in Alfie and said there is something special about him.
“But I brushed off that comment because I thought he couldn’t have his picture taken, but my friend said ‘anything is possible’.
“And he arranged for a professional photographer to take pictures of him.”
Gary says John Christian set up a photo shoot for Alfie and soon after he was picked up by Zebedee Management, an agency for models with disabilities.
But Gary, who also has two daughters Marie, 27, Sophie, 22, and a step-daughter Leanne, 30, adds: “He goes from being a boy to just doing it – he is a performer.
“Being on set really relaxes him – it was like he was born to do it, it has helped him to come out of himself.
“That is why when we found his real passion and I realised he was so much more relaxed it was such a relief, it felt like a weight off my shoulders.
“I just want people to know that disabilities can’t stop your dreams.
“The modelling and acting has made him grow so much, because even when he doesn’t get jobs with his modelling he is learning to deal with it and doesn’t get angry like he would have done.
“He is different boy, he has gone from a boy that was angry all the time and is now so confident.
“It is just fabulous – his confidence has just skyrocketed.
“From a boy that was angry all the time he is now so confident.
“We have had a really tough journey – with the lack of help that was out there and I struggled to get any information.
“I’ve been to hell and back, but it’s been worth it for him. Before leaving mainstream school it looked like we had no hope, but the things he’s achieved now are fantastic.
Although, the youngster has previously had problems growing up, Alfie is happy he has found what he is destined for.
Alfie Aldrige said: “I am very excited about my modelling and it makes me very excited when I am doing the modelling.
“I love it, I want to be a top model when I am older.
“I don’t really get nervous but when I first started I was quite nervous.
“I talk to my friends about it at school and they say it is really cool.
“When I go in for a shoot they do my hair and makeup and it makes me feel like a celebrity.
“It is really, really fun I like going to London because my dad will take me to Five Guys as well.”