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Fundraise on the First: Mums feel ‘part of something special’ thanks to First Step

PUBLISHED: 10:42 30 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:42 30 January 2015

Sarah Dorrian and Clare Kelly with their families

Sarah Dorrian and Clare Kelly with their families

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Two mums who have seen first-hand the impact of First Step’s care on children and families are set to watch their own youngsters join together to host a fundraising event.

Emma Kelly, Jacob Kelly and Connor Dorrian honing their baking skills Emma Kelly, Jacob Kelly and Connor Dorrian honing their baking skills

Three of Sarah Dorrian and Clare Kelly’s children will be cracking out their mixing bowls and whisks today (Friday) for a cake sale at St Alban’s Catholic Primary School, in Heron Flight Avenue, Hornchurch, which they all attend.

Jacob and Emma Kelly, six and four, and Connor Dorrian, six, were inspired to participate in our campaign by their parents’ connections with First Step.

Sarah’s family is one of the many supported by the charity, based in Tangmere Crescent, Hornchurch.

Her second son Finlay, almost one, was diagnosed with the rare condition Williams Syndrome when he was three months old.

Sarah, 35, said: “There were lots of issues from birth, he didn’t feed very well and was born really small at 4lb 10.

“It was quite a shock to have such a tiny baby and we had to keep going back to the doctors and the health visitor.

“The third paediatric doctor looked and him and said, ‘I think he has got something’.

“It was very difficult, but at the same time I kind of knew there was something wrong.

“The diagnosis confirmed it and showed that I wasn’t being paranoid.”

Williams Syndrome is a condition caused by a chromosome abnormality.

It can affect brain development and lead to problems such as heart defects, kidney damage and muscle weakness.

Finlay was found to have a congenital heart defect and he had open heart surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital at the age of just six months.

It was after Finlay’s diagnosis that his family were referred to First Step.

Clare Kelly, 39, who, like Sarah, lives in Hornchurch, is one of the charity’s passionate staff members.

She has been the volunteer coordinator since November.

Clare, married to Matt, 37, said: “My children have been to First Step a few times and they just love it, they are really excited about the campaign.

“My daughter is not aware too much, but my son wanted to help and that is why they are holding the cake sale.

“Before I started at First Step I felt daunted because it is such an important charity, I didn’t want to let anyone down.

“But it is really lovely, the staff are so supportive and I feel we are part of something special.”

Sarah, whose husband Joe, 33, is running the London Marathon for First Step, said: “It’s been hard, but a positive thing is that Williams Syndrome adults and children are very over-friendly; they don’t have that social barrier.

“Finlay has just started to say hello to every single person who goes past him.

“It’s really sweet.”

Sarah said that the care provided by First Step staff is second to none.

“It’s a place where no one judges you or your child and you meet others going through exactly the same things.

“When Finlay first went he wasn’t really doing anything, he couldn’t play because he didn’t know what to do.

“But First Step have helped him to communicate.

“Music therapy was where he first started understanding his name; they were singing it and he was like, ‘That’s me’.”

To sponsor Joe, visit justgiving.com/Joe-Dorrian

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