A young autistic girl suffering with anxiety has been inspired by an employee at her local bookshop.

Tabitha Blackmore, from Chelmsford suffers with anxiety at school, she’s an avid reader with an interest in ancient history, a topic she rarely discussed with anyone, until she met Charlene.

Charlene Ottaway, met Tabitha in January when she visited Foyles asking for a recommendation on Greek mythology for children.

Charlene, 23, from Chelmsford said: “I started talking to her and I was amazed at how much she knew. I told her that I had studied Ancient History and Classics at University, and the fun I had there.

“I recommended a book series called “Roman mysteries” by Caroline Lawrence, which we didn’t have in but I could order for her.”

Tabitha visited Charlene every Saturday and they spoke about why it’s important to go to school and learn as much as possible so that Tabatha could have the opportunity to study something like ancient history.

Tabatha’s mum, Katie Blackmore said: “The way Charlie spoke with her and got through to her was amazing.

“She’s the only person Tabatha knows that loves ancient history as much as her.

“When Charlie found out about Tabatha not wanting to go to school she seemed upset, she told her if she made it through the week she would order her one of the history books.

“She did it, and now we use books as an encouragement. When she gets anxious she just tell us she has to do it because of Charlie and the books.

“Now she’s decided she wants to go to uni to be a vet or to study ancient history.”

A couple of ago days Tabitha and her mother visited Foyles to say goodbye to Charlene as her contract of employment was ending.

Charlene said: “That evening I was sat at home looking at my collection of the books and thought about how much I had loved them. They pushed me to study at university.

“The impact they had on my life was what I hoped I could share by recommending the books. But I also knew I wouldn’t be reading them again. So I wrapped them all up and wrote a card.

“I was excited for Tabitha to have the chance to fall in love with them the same way I did. I left them at Foyles and had a couple of days off. When I came back there was a beautiful card from Tabitha thanking me.”

Charlene had hand wrapped 18 books including the one she ordered from Foyles, and left them for Tabitha along with a card and chocolates.

After Katie’s husband picked up the gifts from Foyles, the family were so overwhelmed Katie decided to write a letter to Charlene’s boss.

Charlene added “My contract has since been extended and I look forward to seeing Tabitha again, discussing the books and recommending many more.”

Katie said: “Someone like that deserves recognition, I wanted them to know how phenomenal and lovely she had been and what an impression she had on my daughter.