Special Delivery NI
1888. Clare Cushenan
Clare Cushenan, from County Antrim, has been gifting hundreds of support boxes to new mothers of children with Down's Syndrome in Northern Ireland since March 2020, after her own daughter Aoife was born with the condition in 2013.
Following Aoife’s birth, Clare realised that she wanted to support other parents who may be worried about having a child with Down’s Syndrome, to offer reassurance and share positive information about the condition. Through her initiative ‘Special Delivery NI’, Clare sends gift boxes to maternity units across Northern Ireland which include handmade blankets, hats and cardigans, baby clothes and comforters, alongside scented candles, toiletries and other items for new mothers, and books “Wouldn’t Change A Thing” and “#NobodyToldMe”, which are aimed at changing outdated perceptions and celebrating children with Down’s Syndrome. Clare is also a member of the ‘Down’s Syndrome Association’, which runs support groups and works to improve the quality of life for people with the condition, as well as local group ‘Little Buddies’, which helps children in County Antrim with additional needs.
The award for Clare coincides with World Down’s Syndrome Day.
In a personal letter to Clare, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“As we mark World Down Syndrome Day, I am delighted to recognise you as the UK’s 1888th Point of Light for your fantastic work in supporting new mothers in Northern Ireland.
“I was inspired to learn of ‘Special Delivery NI’ and how you send hundreds of support boxes to new mums with their own special deliveries. The blankets, baby clothes and toiletries you gift to families are a wonderful way of celebrating new arrivals. Also the books you have donated, such as ‘Wouldn’t Change a Thing’, are shaping the conversation around Down Syndrome and challenging outdated perceptions.”
“It is lovely to receive this recognition on 21st March, World Down’s Syndrome day. I would like to thank everyone who has donated to ‘Special Delivery NI’ and congratulations to all the new mums who have been blessed with their own very special delivery.”