A Croydon mother is set to walk 25k along the Thames to raise money for the Down syndrome charity who supported her with her daughter.
Full time mother, Hannah Hughes, launched the fundraiser to give back to Positive About Down Syndrome (PADS) that supported her when she found out her daughter Ava had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
With nearly £3000 already raised, Hughes and her friends have been training for the 25k walk, taking place in September, crossing 17 bridges along the River Thames.
The Croydon-based mother of two, 35, found out her daughter had Down Syndrome when she was 13 weeks old, though throughout her pregnancy no one had suspected a thing.
Hughes said: “I think if I had been told while I was pregnant, I would have looked at her differently, but I have bonded with her unconditionally.
“It was really hard to get my head around. I was gobsmacked because out of the 11 medical professionals involved, no one noticed a thing. My whole world felt like it crumbled, as society has made us think it is such a negative thing.
“Children with Down Syndrome are not disabled. They are just like us with a different genetic profile, there needs to be a lot more awareness out there. They are no less to any other child.”
When Hughes got the test results back to confirm Ava had Down Syndrome, she felt a wave of emotions and didn’t know what to expect.
She said: “I felt in a really lonely place, once I had my moment of tear’s I thought my children needed a strong parent and that’s when I turned to PADS.”
PADS was created in 2017, and is an online charity that focuses on the positives of Down Syndrome, providing counselling, peer support and training to ensure new and expectant parents receive the information and support they deserve.
Hughes said the group has really helped her, and felt she has received all sorts of support.
She said: “People in Croydon that are also on the group have reached out to me. They have been so welcoming and supportive, and I have realised there is a big community around my area.
“I’m not overly active on the PADS group compared to others, but I know it’s a security net. If I have a day where I feel really down and don’t want to bombard my family, I know I can just go onto the page and just feel secure, safe and feel that everyone is there for me.
“I have always wanted to do something for charity. My 10-year-old son has autism, and I could have done loads of walks, but this time round I felt like I needed to give something back as it is just so supportive.”
Positive about Down Syndrome provides a book, ‘Nobody told me, the truth about Down Syndrome’, to new parents and expectant mums filled with stories and photos by parents and grandparents to give an insight into their everyday lives.
Nicola Enoch, Trustee of Positive about Down Syndrome said: “It’s amazing that Hannah and her friends are raising money for PADS.
“People need to know that they are not alone, it can be very scary at the beginning as there is huge amounts of fear and stigma, parents go on to realise that a baby with Down syndrome is really no different.
“A lot of anti-natal screenings talk about the risks and we want to highlight the positives and provide parents with the reality.”
Donations to the fundraiser can be made here.