Three schoolchildren who have given up lunch breaks and come in early to help their autistic classmate have been awarded a Princess Diana award.

When Geoffrey Acquaah first started at Twickenham Academy three years ago he struggled to make friends, but within weeks Whitton teens Harrison Penton, Megan Tate and Alfie Allman offered to make sure Geoffrey was not isolated.

The school said the inspirational trio, all now 14 years old, look out for him in classes and the playground – and help him develop his social skills.

On Monday, July 11 the group, known as Geoffrey’s Circle of Friends, were rewarded for their efforts with a Princess Diana award at a ceremony at Barclays headquarters in Canary Wharf.

Harrison, who has known Geoffrey since primary school, said: "I don't look at it as volunteering because Geoffrey is our friend and we want to make sure he feels happy in school.

"It is reassuring for him to know that whatever happens there is someone looking out for him and making sure he is ok."

Megan said she was proud to receive the award because what the three do means a lot to their friend.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Harrison Penton, Geoffrey Acquaah and Megan Tate

Geoffrey, from Staines, is taught within the main school at Twickenham Academy but supported at the on campus Gateway Centre which help pupils with autistic spectrum conditions.

He said: "They are my best friends. They help me out at school. It's really nice to play games with them at lunch time.

"This is a great school because everyone is nice and helps me. I feel happy here because I have friends."

Gateway Centre teacher Matthew Sheath, also Geoffrey's key worker, said the difference Harrison, Megan and Alfie made to Geoffrey’s life was ‘immeasurable’.

Mr Sheath said: "This last year has seen him take huge steps forward, which is in part down to the support he gets.

"For close to three years Megan, Alfie and Harrison have been there for him, week in week out, and the group has become an integral part of Geoffrey's school life.

"It is also a two way process, providing an opportunity for his friends to develop their understanding and appreciation of what it means to be on the autistic spectrum.

"I extremely proud of what they have done and continue to do and it is absolutely right that they should be recognised for it."

The Princess Diana Award was set up in memory of Princess Diana and is supported by her sons, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry – as well as her brother, Earl Spencer.