“THE INITIAL shock that every parent in this situation experiences is hard to put into words, you have mixed feelings of anger, sadness, worry and the constant nagging question; why me?”
Kerry Chiddle’s daughter suffers from Cerebral Palsy - a disability which can cause impaired muscle coordination amongst other complications.
“Already having two young boys, it was excitement mixed with surprise when I found out I was expecting twins,” said Kerry.
“Everything was going to plan until seven months into my pregnancy when my girls were born seven weeks early weighing just under 3lb each.
“After leaving hospital it soon became apparent during the first couple of months that they were not both developing at the same level, it was little things like reaching up, rolling over or clutching things. Aime seemed to be able to do all these things much quicker and easier than Bethany.”
At eight months, Bethany was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.
The family’s priority was to find out what support was available to their baby.
In May 2009 they paid what would be their first of many visits to the Dame Vera Lynn Trust School for Parents in Five Oaks, near Billingshurst.
“We were overwhelmed by the warm and welcoming atmosphere. We came away with a very positive attitude as to how this wonderful school could help Bethany.”
The Trust for Children with Cerebral Palsy was set up in 2001 and provides a specialist service for families of young children with the disability and other motor learning difficulties.
Parents and children under the age of five learn daily living skills together using the principles of Conductive Education.
Bethany started that June, and the results have been outstanding, explains Kerry.
“The School for Parents teaches parents how to apply the principles of Conductive Education into everyday life at home involving the whole family.
“Bethany is now three years old and is able to play throwing a ball with her older brothers and join in with lots of other activities.
“Dealing with the emotional and physical aspect of having a child with cerebral palsy has been made so much easier by meeting parents in a similar situation and knowing you are not alone.”
She added: “The Dame Vera Lynn Trust School for Parents is a very special place. I do not know what we would have done without them.”
But ‘special’ comes at a cost. The trust rely entirely on the support of the community to raise the £575,000 needed this year to ensure the vital and much-loved service continues.
Sarah Foulkes Roberts, head of Early Years, said: “It is a great privilege to be so closely involved with the families who seek the support of the School for Parents service.
“The team and I care deeply about the work we do with the children and we feel inspired by an approach that we know facilitates their learning and development.
“In School for Parents we work in partnership with parents and it is this effective partnership that ensures vital practical advice and support and a more positive future for the child and the family around them.”
For further information about the Dame Vera Lynn Trust contact the trust office on 01403 780444, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.dvltrust.org.uk