Parents enjoy new Down Syndrome support group

Parents enjoy new Down Syndrome support group

6 December 2017

A NEWCASTLE mum who travelled to Saintfield at the weekend to attend the launch of a support group for parents of children with Down Syndrome hopes others will enjoy its companionship and support.

Fiona Hamill was one of 20 parents of children with Down Syndrome to attend a family fun day on Saturday to officially launch Saintfield Parish Down Syndrome Support Group.

She attended the event with her three year-old daughter Sophie and says the existence of such a group when Sophie was a baby would have been a huge help.

Looking forward to the companionship from others on a similar journey, Fiona says she wishes somebody had told her, when Sophie was an infant, that she should not be in fear.

Hopeful that she too might be able to help someone who is struggling with the challenges of Down Syndrome, she said she would have loved somebody to tell her three years ago; “This is my son/daughter, he/she has Down Syndrome, they are two years-old now, it is not so scary.”

“The group will give new and older parents the social support that doctors and medics sometimes do not,” she said. “From things like bowel movements to health complications, to our children reaching milestones.

I would be lost without the support of other parents and hope I am a help to others too.”

Fiona was welcomed to the group by its founders, local mums Shirley Wadsworth and Nichola McSherry.

Having forged a friendship through their sons, Luke and Euan, who also have Down Syndrome, they decided to formalise their own local support network for the benefit of the wider community. 

Shirley said they were delighted with the turnout at their first meeting and excited by the future.

“We are excited about the prospects and would hope to organise one event a month,” she said.

“I have been speaking to the organiser of another group in Lurgan where they host a Saturday event with a speech therapist, which sounds like a fantastic idea so I will be meeting her to see what she recommends.

“We have had midwives getting in touch and asking if they can send other new mums along. We really want people to know we are out there.”

Nichola said she was pleasantly surprised by the turnout, which she said demonstrated how much needed the group was.

“A group like this would have helped me in the early years. Euan is four and was one of the oldest there so it is great to know that the mums of younger ones will get to know each other at an earlier stage. 

“One of our first events will be a night out for the mums in January.”

Anyone interested in joining Saintfield Parish Down Syndrome Support Group may do so via their Facebook page.