23rd December 2020 • My Family Our Needs

We know how important it is for SEND parents to connect with each other and share their stories. This year, the BAPS Awards 2020 went virtual to make sure this could still happen.

We may not have been able to clink glasses at the BAPS Awards 2020, but the nominees certainly sipped their drinks in style with the addition of the BAPS branded champagne flutes! MFON HQ was dressed up for the occasion, complete with bunting, shimmering disco ball, and a very warm virtual welcome from BAPS event organisers, Leah Attwood, Debs Aspland, and Lisa Werthmann.

Despite being miles apart from each other, the warmth, sense of community, and emotion was shared by all on the night. It has certainly been a challenging year, however the BAPS 2020 virtual event put a much-needed smile on all our faces.

Here is round-up of all our winners!

Yvonne Newbold

Bloody Awesome Parent of the Year

Winner: Yvonne Newbold

Yvonne is a best-selling author and blogger. Judges admired Yvonne’s strength and determination to find a way through her terminal breast cancer diagnosis, by writing The Special Parent’s Handbook. The book shared what it’s like to be a parent of a profoundly disabled child. Since then, Yvonne has founded the SEND VCB project – a project aimed at helping violent SEND children live a life of happiness of hope.

Best use of media

Winner: Kaytee Jones – The Nurse Mum

Here is what one nominee had to say about Kaytee, ‘Kaytee does what any parent does – she fights for the rights of her child. Her son, Jaxon, needs more support than most children and Kaytee must shout much louder to receive support. Currently she is appealing the NHS’ decision to reduce her care hours and has documented this battle on her Instagram page, which has been picked up by The Daily Mirror and ITV daytime programme, This Morning.’


Hayley Balozi - I am river

Blog post with the biggest impact

Winner: I am RiverIf you refuse to stop using this word then you are no friend of mine.

Meet the Balozi family. Mum, Hayley, husband Reagan and their two sons Skyler and River. The family didn’t know River had Downs Syndrome until he was 6 months old. In this blog post, Hayley shares why the word ‘Retard’ is viewed as hate speech.

Someone who nominated I am River said, ‘There is such a lack of understanding around why the word is offensive. Blogs like this bring to life the reasoning behind its offense and help educate those who may not have even thought about their words and how they affect people.’

Making a Difference

Winner: James Hunt – Stories About Autism

James Hunt describes himself as kind, patient, and empathetic. BAPS judges praised James’s stories about his two sons with autism. Families across the world have connected with him, as he breaks down the barriers and the stigma surrounding autism by offering humble accounts of the highs and lows of parenting children with autism.

James Hunt

helen fores


Winner: Helen Fores – Spark Sensory

Commenting on why they nominated Spark Sensory, someone said, ‘It’s rare to see people dedicated in making a difference in their community with so much passion and enthusiasm, Helen does just that.’

Travel and Accessibility

Winner: Lizzie Murphy – A Curious Journey

Trained journalist, Lizzie, wanted to start writing about something she was passionate about. So, she stopped writing about cars and created her own website to write about her family. Lizzie is mum to two boys with additional needs. BAPS judges thought Lizzie’s blogs were a brilliant resource for SEND parents who share Lizzie’s love of travel.

lizzie murphy

wouldnt change a thing

Community Support

Winner: Wouldn’t Change a Thing

Someone who nominated Wouldn’t Change a Thing said, ‘The team behind Wouldn’t Change a Thing have done absolute wonders for the Downs Syndrome community to massively change perceptions. Wouldn’t Change a Thing have recently gained charity status, and the Wouldn’t Change a Thing book is designed to support new and expectant parents and maternity units in the UK. The book is going to do massive things for the community as new parents will be gifted a book that isn’t doom and gloom that highlights what an amazing journey they are just starting.’

Educating Education

Winner: Gemma Bryan – Isla’s Voice

What did people say who nominated Isla’s Voice? ‘Gemma dedicates her life to blogging, attending events, running support groups, as well as being a governor in a special educational school and raising awareness of autism.’

jo Cooksey

Truth about SEND

Winner: Jo Cooksey – First time valley mam

Jo started her blog with the thought – ‘if I helped just one person that would be worth it.’ She now sees her blog as her online diary and views all the people she has met on her blogging journey as her friends. BAPS judges praised her raw and honest writing.


Winner: Liz Arriens – Coraline and Us

Liz and her husband discovered unexpectedly within hours that their daughter, Coraline had Downs Syndrome and two holes in her heart. The couple did not know anything about Downs Syndrome when Coraline was born. Their blog, Coraline and Us is about their journey of growth.

Coraline and Us was created to show that everything in life comes back to love, and each post reflects Liz and her husband’s values.

corraline and us

We are so excited for the next event and would like to thank all our deserving winners, finalists, and sponsors for making the BAPS Awards 2020 a truly memorable and joyous evening.

We were delighted to be joined by special guests, including Christine McGuinness, Carrie Grant MBE and Samantha Renke

Missed the ceremony or just want to watch it again? The video is still available, watch it here.

Relive the BAPS Awards 2020 with our tweets from the night!

With thanks to our sponsors

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