Shortlisted in Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards

I cannot thank you all enough for nominating Downs Side Up for the Brilliance in Blogging Awards #BiBs, hosted by Britmums, for whom I am proud to be the SEN Editor of a Round-up each month.

The shortlists were announced yesterday* and amid a flurry of excited tweets, I realised that our Down's Syndrome blog was listed in two categories. Well 3 if you count being part of the Special Needs Jungle team as well. (Eeeek!)

* scroll to bottom of page for link to vote now

Commentary and Campaigns 
and Outstanding Blogs
(Downs Side Up)

and Health
(as part of the team writing at
Special Needs Jungle)

I had secretly dared hope to see Downs Side Up included in the Inspire section as last year, but I never dreamt it would be in 2 categories, not least Outstanding, placed shoulder to shoulder with beautifully crafted, inspirational and incredibly well-known sites, including a couple of my all time blogging gurus.

To that end I feel like part of an incredible team, and whichever blogs win the actual accolade won't matter, because we are all in this together, helping to make the world a better place, and how can you choose between them. I am proud to call many of those listed true and trusted friends.

I sat back last night, as I celebrated with Fish and Chips and a glass of something white and crisp, and pondered how to explain why Downs Side Up is listed in these categories. How would I summarise what we do to someone new landing on the site what we are all about?

Commentary and Campaigns:

Removing society's fear of Down's syndrome 

We are often to be found on TV or radio. It's a tireless task, but a necessary one.

92% of babies with an antenatal diagnosis of Down's syndrome will be terminated.
For me this is such a very key motivator to all I do. It's personal. It symbolises that society thinks my daughter is faulty, not worth keeping, a mistake. I too was once ignorant of Down's syndrome and the realities it brings and I shudder to think what I might have done when fearful and trusting the advice of medical professionals if I had known before Natty was born. I believe in choice, but not in choice being removed from parents, the choice to keep their much loved baby.

If just one expectant  or new Mum with a diagnosis reads our blog and realises her child will Live Life to the Full then I have helped balance the information available to her.

If just one sonographer, consultant or midwife learns to support women at point of screening with unbiased facts after ready Cautionary Thought on Ante-natal Screening, to enable them to make informed decisions rather than presuming abortion to be the only way forward, then I have helped change society's perceptions of Trisomy 21.

If telling my story in at Westminster helps a multi-party group of MPs change the outdated and archaic disability abortion laws, then I have helped the world see that Down's syndrome is not a 'severe handicap' (I quote) but a moderate developmental delay. And if just one politician manages to change the disability abortion law from 'up to birth' to 24 weeks then I have helped make the world see that our children are of equal value.


I love to think that Downs Side Up is a place where other blogs and parents can come and join together, and more importantly, a place where adults with Down's syndrome can share their experiences and achievements. We often run guest posts, showcasing families' experiences and the Our Voice! page on my blog is my favourite. 


90% of adults with a learning disability will have been bullied at some point in their lives, 47% attacked or spat on.

If you have read our blog and decided that my child is more like your child than unalike, then I have removed a little part of the fear society has of Down's syndrome.

If just one journalist banishes headlines like Down's Girl Models then I have helped teach the world that we should Lose the Label and see the person first, and their condition or diagnosis is just a part of who they are.

If just one member of the public reads one of our newspaper articles or hears our interviews and decides that children with Down's syndrome are not to be avoided, mistrusted or feared then I have made a little step for an inclusive society.

If speaking to groups of school children, or victim support workers or special needs teachers help change perceptions and enable better support networks and truer inclusion, than I have helped protect others, and ensure for Natty's future.

If just one medical professional reads my blog or article in a medical journal and feels inspired to continue or to better their practice then I have helped educate them that there are human stories behind every diagnosis, and that we all have an equal right to the healthcare system.

If I help circulate information about the Winterbourne care home abuse or Mencap's Death by Indifference campaign to stop preventable death of those with learning disabilities in hospitals die to neglect, or shout about the Illegal use of Seclusion Rooms in special schools, then I have helped ensure those with a learning disability are treated with dignity and respect and given choices over their own lives.


If writing and providing interviews for charities such as the DSA, Mencap (for whom I am a proud Mumbassador), FPLD, Makaton, BILD and RCM for example supplies real life examples for their campaigns for more respite for carers, better healthcare, safer residential units, more complete inclusion in schools, easier access to communication tools and so on, then I have helped make a few lives easier.

If just some of the funds we have raised goes towards research into better medical advances for our children, or educational interventions than will ensure their independence then I have helped support a generation.

If I can help highlight the need for invaluable Learning Disability nurses, then possibly the government will see a need to increase their numbers.

If one friend or family learns what to say when a baby is born with Down's syndrome then we have helped support new parents, oh so subtley.

If I can reach out to other women who have experienced miscarriages or who blame their bodies for their children's disabilities with thank you Body for What you have Done, I can bring comfort in shared experiences.

If you find a learning activity or recipe to try at home that helps you have fun with your child, we have put a cherry on your cake that day. 

Support Book

Big sister Mia has written a beautiful book about her sibling, to support other children who have a baby brother or sister with Down's syndrome. We are very close to launching this not for profit project now, having bitten the bullet and printed it ourselves. Our aim is to cover costs and use the proceeds to fund sending books to Neo-natal Units and Health Visitors to distribute to new families.


If a beautiful collection of children with disabilities have begun modelling around the globe, if companies are realising that beauty comes in many varieties then pioneering little Natty has helped change the face of advertising. We still have far to go, but I can see a day when all children can see themselves represented in catalogues and commercials.

Fundraising and Charity

Over the years we have raised a staggering £12,000 for Neo-natal Intensive Care Units, breast pumps, speech therapy for local kids and national Down's syndrome charities.
This year, on March 21st, an online #LotsOfSock #selfie campaign raised a breath-taking £6300 in just over 24 hours. Thank you all for your support, it really will make a difference to the lives of individuals with Down's syndrome and their families. Read about what we achieved on World Down Syndrome Day here. 

Bigots and Trolls

Often a campaigning will take an unpleasant and draining U turn as many of us in the disability world join forces to oust a bigot from office. Much letter writing is generally the weapon of choice, media interviews backing that up. But, when the likes of Geoffery Clark (calling for 'compulsory abortions for babies with DS") and Collin Brewer ("babies with disabilities should be snuffed out at birth like a deformed lamb") stand down, our mission is accomplished. We will overcome the shadows with our shining light. 

Explaining the Outstanding category is much more difficult:

There are so many outstanding blogs out there and to be considered amongst them is beyond my wildest dreams. It's difficult to look at what you do and see it as anything other than being an ordinary mum who is trying to make the world a better place for her daughter.

Maybe it's because people from all walks of life come and visit and stay and keep coming back because our blog is relevent to all?
Perhaps Downs Side Up is a hub for other DS blogs to meet, join linkies, share aims.
Perhaps people meet me and find a person they like? Someone who is surprisingly silly under that driven exterior.
Maybe someone has noticed that Downs Side Up has become a full time unpaid job for me and they want to donate a PA to me *dreams on*.
Perhaps its because Downs Side Up is a marathon blog, not a sprinting one. At nearly three, it apparently has lasted longer than 90% do.
I am certainly no technical wizard, nor a photographer, but maybe people like it's homely, homemade look and feel.
I'm not sure it's outstanding just because it has been nominated for lots of awards, including the Daily Mail Inspirational Woman of the Year.

No, I think Downs Side Up could be considered Outstanding because it has a life of its own...  

In a way I think I was given the responsibility of writing it. I have often mused that Natty was born to us for a reason and that I am duty bound to make use of my skill set; a former English teacher, voice over artist, wannabe photographer and a confident old boot who isn't phased by live TV much or new situations. I'll chat the hind legs off any willing donkey, so writing and speaking are a joy to me. I love people, and meeting and mixing with them, and I pride myself on even dealing with the trolls with as much grace as I can muster at all times.

When Natty was 3 days old a consultant looked me straight in the eyes as she lay in an incubator, fighting for her life and said "one day you will be an ambassador for these children". I laughed his comment off, still shocked at the unexpected diagnosis, and unsure if I was even up to being a good Mum for Natty, let alone supporting thousands of others, but his prophecy certainly came true.

I am honoured that Natty and Mia are our daughters, that they have made me the woman I am today and I am proud to be at the helm of Down Side Up with Daddy Downs Side Up's full support and encouragement. 

Who knows where it will take us next!

Oh, I nearly forgot, if you have 30 seconds spare, 
I would dearly love you to vote for Downs Side Up in the 
Commentary and the Outstanding categories. 
Special Needs Jungle is fabulous too and sits proudly in Health.

                                                                       VOTE FOR ME BiB 2014 OUTSTANDING

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