A charity for autistic children has been saved from closure thanks to the generosity of Argus readers.

Sussex Autistic Society, which costs £100,000 a year to run, said it needed to find £20,000 to plug low funds or it would have to shut.

But a story in The Argus about the charity's plight inspired readers to step in to save it.

Donations have poured in and it has now moved from Keymer Road in Hassocks to newly-donated offices in Arundel and is providing improved services to hundreds of families in Sussex.

The charity, which relies heavily on donations and grants, offers a comprehensive support programme and plans to make more improvements later this year.

Secretary Lindsey Butterfield said: "It's fantastic. Since the article we've had an amazing response with money still coming in."

The charity is now looking forward to securing a £165,000 lottery grant which will be used to fund a specialist youth centre in Worthing from September.

The society's support services, many of which are self-funding, include family centres in Rustington and Eastbourne, an outreach respite service, activity and development services during school holidays, a behavioural support programme and training for professionals, parents and carers.

A new residential unit with a team of seven carers providing 24-hour care will open in Sussex this summer, the first of its kind in the South.

Ms Butterfield said the staff's commitment had been a major factor in the charity's successful expansion.

She said: "They've been working like Trojans - they are absolutely brilliant.

"Without them we'd never be where we are now.

"The £20,000 has allowed us to top up funds, keep staff and gave us a breathing space."

Up to 500 Sussex families benefit from the charity's advice and support.

Ms Butterfield stressed its importance for people dealing with autismrelated problems.

She said: "We are there with guidance for families with a newly-diagnosed child.

"We just need to let people know we are still here for them when they need us."

The charity's new address is 1 London Road, Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9BH.

For further information call 01903 882666 or visit the charity's new website www.sussexautisticsociety.org