Fenland mum who helps parents with special needs children nominated for Tesco Mum of the Year award

FENLAND mother Michelle King, whose son has Down’s Syndrome and often stops breathing at night, needs your vote to become Mum of the Year.

Michelle, 26, from Benwick, is one of three mothers up for the Tesco magazine’s People’s Choice Mum of the Year 2011, which the public can vote for on Facebook. The winner will receive their award at a star-studded ceremony at The Waldorf Hilton Hotel in February.

She has also attracted the support of Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox in the competition.

Michelle set up Family Voice Peterborough after she found little support for parents of children with special needs when she gave birth to her first child Oliver.

At 36 weeks pregnant Michelle, then 23, was told by doctors that her baby was seriously ill and may not survive.

Oliver was born with the walls of his heart missing and oesophageal atresia, meaning he couldn’t feed or swallow and was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.

Michelle said: “To be told Oliver had Down’s Syndrome was actually fantastic – it meant he could be helped. It meant he had a chance at survival. When I gave birth to Oliver and he took his first breath, it was the best moment of my life. I knew then that he was a little fighter.”

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Oliver has been in and out of hospital since birth and relies on a feeding pump and oxygen supply. When he was 14 months old, Oliver had a heart attack, which caused him to lose his hearing.

With a grant from Together for Disabled Children, Michelle set up Family Voice in early 2009, which campaigns to local authorities for improved services for those with disabilities.

She set up a weekly playgroup after meeting many parents struggling to cope alone through Family Voice. At first only Michelle and Oliver were joined by one other mum but now 120 families attend.

She said: “I thought it would be so nice to be able to cry or moan together, to express all the emotions you go through when you have a disabled child as a group. I set up Little Miracles in March 2010, a group where parents of children with special needs could meet, socialise and support each other.”

Michelle ,who also has two daughters, Amelia, two, and one-year-old Imogen, gets the most votes, fundraises tirelessly for provide free services through Little Miracles so all parents can access them, and she offers emotional support to all parents.

Michelle said: “Sometimes I get a call at 4am because one of the mums desperately needs someone to speak to. To know that they feel they can call me any time, and to know that I am helping someone going through the same situation as me, is a privilege.”

Ms Cox said: “Michelle is a mum in a million and an inspiration to other mums who face the same challenges as she does. I’m amazed that she’s able to make time not only for her own family, but for many others too.”

• The awards celebrate hardworking and dedicated mums all over the country who have changed the lives of others. To find out more about and to vote for Michelle visit www.facebook.com/mumoftheyear

Voting closes on January 25.

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