What Have I Done to Deserve This? A MADs Honour

Downs Side Up is an 
Outstanding Contribution finalist
'prumbleation' - n 

Def: An inexplicable mixture of bursting pride, 
humbled shock and unswerving determination

e.g. Being a finalist in the MAD Blog Awards for making an Outstanding Contribution has 
filled me with prumbleation

Here I sit and ponder what on earth I have done to deserve to be listed amongst 10 of the UK's most dedicated campaign, support and charity bloggers. 

I'm just a Mum, a parent on a mission, that has found herself at the helm of a ship that cannot be stopped. 

Outstanding Contribution finalist 2013 with Dr Ranj
3 years ago my life changed forever. 

It irreversibly changed when I became a Mum of course, then again when I became a special needs mum. But 3 years ago our youngest began school and I became a blogger. It happened over night and I could never have possibly envisaged where that blog, that mother ship on a course of its own, would take me.

Until now I have been unsure about writing on the topic of being a 2014 MADs (Mums and Dads) finalist on my blog for fear of sounding like I am blowing my own horn. The event takes place this Friday, and I've been unable to formulate a post until now. 

But I sat down to mull over the destinations we had visited on the blogging map this year and to analyse the emotions in my heart, and in a split second I realised that I am proud. Proud of the online community of campaign bloggers and advocates I am just a small part of, proud of the sea of change we are making, proud of the mutual support we give and receive. Proud that 2 other fabulous DS blogs are finalists in different categories as well The Future's Rosie and Don't Be Sorry.

Yes, collaboration is what it's all about. As an individual writer and speaker I am powerless to create change, but together we are better. As I sit with tea in hand and shake my head in disbelief at what I have experienced as a blogger this year, I feel immensely humble. Very small. Insignificant even. 

Blogging at Downs Side Up has become a full time unpaid occupation. It is a vocation, an honour, a duty. It's been a rapid learning curve. And just when I felt we weren't getting anywhere fast enough in changing society's attitudes to Down's syndrome, when bigots have stolen our energy and twisted our emotions and torn our hearts just a little bit more, the very excercise of looking at the tiny achievements has given me the strength to carry on. 

Being a finalist has renewed my determination
Onwards and upwards we go. 

So here are a few highlights of the past months. 
A whistle stop tour of Downs Side Up in photos:

I've had the priviledge of getting to know many incredible folk who have Down's syndrome, and have been able to feature some wonderful interviews with them on Downs Side Up. 

Putting Down's syndrome rights, support for parents at point of diagnosis 
and inclusion in the national press, including The Times, The Financial Times, The Telegraph and The Daily Mail as well as coffee table magazines.

We proudly self published our first support book for children, written by our eldest Mia and experienced the nervous fun of a book signing!
We have covered our costs and are now going to be able to gift this 
beautiful work 
to hospitals, schools, libraries and new families.
We've posted most out from home via Amazon but are so delighted that Waterstones and Sainsbury's are now stocking them.

We raised a staggering amount in 24 hours, mainly via text messages.
Go Team T21!

Natty became the UK's first model with a disability to feature in a Back to School campaign. Thank you Sainsbury's for your inclusive advertising!

Then there was the open letter to Richard Dawkins who claimed it was 'immoral to continue with a pregnancy after a diagnosis of Down' syndrome'. 
We also sent him a copy of our book.
You can read the letter that went viral on the Huffington Post here:
Dear Mr Dawkins, You Are Wrong.

Little Red Riding Hood got invited to a special children's party at the
 Lord Mayor of London's house.

Radio interviews including Radio 4 and LBC, talks at conferences such as LD Action Aware, Victim Support Hate Crime awareness and
Norman Lamb MP's Department of Health training.
TV interviews on BBC Spotlight and ITV Lorraine show.
Papers published in a medical journal and midwives journal.
Columnist for the prestigious Special Needs Jungle, Britmums and Huffington Post.
Westminster campaigns and working with charities such as Mencap and the DSA.

Thank you to all my fellow bloggers and parents who voted for Downs Side Up. Thank you for bringing a Down's syndrome blog to the fore and valuing our work. To be honest I feel exhausted reading all of this myself, but these photos don't show the private emails and messages begging for support in the middle of the night, or expressing thanks for helping new parents through difficult times, or saying that a lesson has been learned about the realities of DS today. These are what count. These are what campaign blogging is all about. Real people.  

I'm off to grab some beauty sleep now and 'prumbleate' a bit more before the big party on Friday. If you think the above list sounds like a challenge, I have it on authority that I have to try to keep up with those young'uns on a mechanical surf board at the glitzy event. 

Could be interesting...

Last year I was incredibly touched to also have been named in the 
The evening was one of the most memorable and emotional of my life. We stood together as a team, and here is the powerful video that Sally Whittle and the Tots100 family put together. It shows just how far reaching our blogs can be. 

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