BAPS Awards winner sarah roberts

‘We rise by lifting others’ BAPS Awards Winner Sarah Roberts

25th July 2017

My Family, Our Needs is proud to bring you a blog from our BAPS Awards Winner Sarah Roberts. Sarah blogs over at Don’t Be Sorry and walked away with two Awards on the night: The Truth About SEND and Promoting Positive Perception. Here, Sarah shares her story.

Sarah's son Oscar

Sarah’s son, Oscar

I probably should introduce myself first. I’m Sarah and I write the blog ‘Don’t Be Sorry’. I chose that title because my eldest son Oscar (who will be 5 this month) was born with Down’s Syndrome; unbeknownst to us, as it wasn’t detected in any of the screening or the scans.

Around about 20 minutes or so after I’d woken up from a general anaesthetic, having had an emergency caesarean, the first thing the paediatrician said to me once she’d checked him over, was that she was sorry to tell me the news of his suspected diagnosis.

Her mood was sombre and the overwhelming feeling I got from her was that this was just the most awful news imaginable. I used ‘Don’t Be Sorry’ as a title, because I felt so passionate about the fact that there really was no need to deliver the news in such a bleak, depressing manner.

I guess also to let anyone else out there know, if they happen to stumble across my blog and were of the opinion that having a child with Down’s Syndrome would literally be THE most devastating thing ever, that they don’t need to feel sad for me. There really isn’t anything to be sorry about.

Baby Oscar looking dapper

Baby Oscar and Sarah looking dapper

There are loads of Blog Awards out there and I have, in the past, been nominated, shortlisted and even won a couple of awards, which have always meant so much. But, there was something about the idea behind the BAPS Awards that I really liked.

It was about recognising a set of people, who all put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and told their stories. Stories about their child/children who happen to have disabilities.

It wasn’t about commending the latest lifestyle, photographic or pregnancy blogger. Or singling us out in the most inspirational category (as flattering as that may be).

It was an awards ceremony specifically for likeminded people, who write about some of the challenges they face with their kids. No fancy photos of food on Instagram feeds, no blog posts with people posing in front of funky walls, wearing the latest trendy brand (not that I’m knocking any of these types of blogs…trust me, I’d actually love to be the trendy mum standing in front of a wall #goals. It wasn’t about any of that though. It was about OUR reality. Our truth.

Oscar wearing keep calm t-shirt

Keep calm, it’s only an extra chromosome

I first started blogging back in January 2014. I’d just had my second son and after posting my first ever blog post on my own personal Facebook page, a friend of mine suggested I start my own page.

I’d been dubious at the time. Who’d want to read my wafflings? But what started with just a hundred or so people following me (who were certainly mostly all friends and family), has crazily grown into a following on Facebook of just over 20,000 people.

I had actually started writing the blog about 8 months prior to posting the first one. Oscar was around 9 months old and we’d just been told that he needed open heart surgery.

I remember being round at my Mum’s house and saying, I’ve just got this overwhelming feeling to write stuff down. I’m not altogether sure why, but I knew I needed to get it off my chest. I went into her dining room, sat down and typed. And from then on, I guess I’ve never stopped.

Oscar with a muddy face

Mucky pup, Oscar

It’s still an outlet for me. Somewhere for me to write down all the stuff that I’m trying to make sense of.

It’s about celebrating the highs, but equally recognising the lows. It’s about letting people, who might be in a similar sort of position to me, know that it’s ok to have a rubbish day.

But more than that, it’s about showing people out there, who might have a preconceived idea of what they think having a child with Down’s Syndrome is like, that it’s not what that paediatrician first had me believe. Not for a single second. Oh, and that life most definitely goes on.

Oscar with his siblings

Oscar with Alfie and Flo

After Oscar, I went on to have two other children, Alfie, who’s 3.5 and Flo, who’ll be 2 later this month. Over time the blog has evolved for us, in that as much as I write to raise awareness about Down’s Syndrome, it’s also about our life as a ‘normal’, albeit slightly crazy, family of 5.

Children peering over a bridge

What’s over the bridge?

Winning ‘Promoting Positive Perceptions’ and ‘The Truth About SEND’ at the BAPS Awards, honestly meant so much to me. Mostly because I hope it means that I might be getting it right; that people actually might be enjoying my blogs with the added bonus, that they find comfort and reassurance in them.

The evening itself was a huge success – the Awards themselves, getting to meet Sally Phillips, the meal, the sponsors (Walsingham Support, Kuradocs and Choice Support), the dancing, along with the efforts of all those who organised the event. But for me, above all of that, was the honour of being in a room with people who I follow online, all of whom I respect and admire for what they do.

Oscar on the underground

Riding the tube

When I first had Oscar, and shortly after I started writing, I could never have imagined what lay ahead as a result of the blogging – awards ceremonies, magazine articles, the opportunity to give talks to both educational and medical professionals, Oscar being signed to a modelling agency and working with brands such as Jojo Maman Bebe and Apple iPad, running dance and drama workshops and so much more…

But over and above all that, it’s been about the people I’ve come into contact with. People who write blogs themselves, but just as much, it’s the people who read our blogs and take the time to comment and share their stories too.

Sarah, Oscar, Alfie and Flo

Sarah, Oscar, Alfie and Flo

Thank you so much to My Family Our Needs, Bringing Us Together, and Debs Aspland for making the evening one I’ll always remember.

Oh, and to Oscar. My little boy and my reason for writing. Thank you always xxx

You can find Sarah blogging over at Don’t Be Sorry, she’s also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you missed the BAPS Awards, you can catch up on all the winners, we’ll be featuring their stories in the coming months.

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sarah bisson
sarah bisson

Hi There, I was hoping to reach Sarah Roberts with this email I work in a very good school in Dulwich – Ivydale Primary School I watched the news where you spoke about how people talk about – how having a child with Down Syndrome is perceived as negative I work in the after school club there and we have a child with this condition starting in September. She is a lovely little girl and her mother is a teacher at the school I was hoping you may consider coming to the school and perhaps enlightening teachers, support staff, dinner… Read more »

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