131. Emma Hall
A mother and full time carer from Fleet has helped over 100 families across Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey by co-founding a support group for families who are raising a child with Down’s Syndrome.
Emma Hall cares for her nine year old daughter Isla, who was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome at birth. After realising more support for families was needed in the South East, Emma co-founded and chaired Stepping Stones DS, a group that provides activities for children of all abilities and also helps to combat isolation.
Stepping Stones DS started with just three children in 2006 and has since become a registered charity, supporting families across three counties with range of different activities planned for the 107 children every week.
Today, Emma and a team of volunteers organise regular sessions and activities for families including horse riding and drama lessons, speech and language therapy, sensory sessions and hydrotherapy. The group also provides information to professionals involved in the care and education of children with Down’s Syndrome and Emma lends her experience to other support groups further afield to help them flourish too.
Stepping Stones DS is able to offer this service free thanks to the generous support and donations from local supporters, fundraising initiatives and grants. The group has also developed partnerships with a number of businesses such as Sainsbury’s and the AA – using these relationships to help fund charity balls and other sponsored events.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“By co-founding ‘Stepping Stones DS’, Emma has become a beacon of support for families of children with Down’s Syndrome in her local area. Emma has used her own personal experiences to improve the lives of others and I am delighted to recognise her as a Point of Light”.
“Receiving this award for doing something I love is really special. Stepping Stones DS is not just somewhere that I volunteer it is also somewhere that provides my family with a support network and the confidence we need to help Isla grow and develop. Everything we do comes from a real belief in teamwork and we have the most amazing families, supporters and volunteers working together to really make a difference.”