Aylesbury mum nominated for award in recognition of her work in caring for her daughter with Down's Syndrome

Jo Hercules, a mum-of-three from Aylesbury, has been nominated in the parent carer category of disability charity Contact's awards.

Jo was nominated by her friend Gail Walshe for the award, which aims to shine a spotlight on the often unseen but great things that parent carers do.

Jo is mum to three children– Max, 19, Frankie, 17 and Mia, 12, who has Down's Syndrome.

She said: "When I first found out I was nominated I was a bit embarrassed really.

"I just felt like I was being nominated for being a brilliant mum.

"Once it sunk in and I took the time to think about it I was delighted."

Mia was diagnosed with the condition when she was just a week old and Jo said: "Initially it was all doom and gloom and we were worried she would not be able to do anything.

"We soon realised things would be brighter than we first thought and to us she feels like a 'typical baby.'

"She is very physically able, but she has learning difficulties and she struggles to read and write.

"She was at a mainstream primary school but later this year she will be starting at a school that caters specifically for pupils with special needs."

Gail, who nominated Jo for the award said: “Jo and Mia clearly adore each other and have so much fun together.

"Mia loves her dolls and expects Jo to hide them in the car every day for the journey to school (a 24 mile round trip).

"Mia also loves it when Jo role plays with her dolls, so Jo has to pretend to be an angry Spanish lady every day which never fails to make Mia laugh.

“They do car pool karaoke together and it is impossible to tell who’s having more fun.

"Every parent should have as much fun and joy with their child as Jo has with Mia and every child, disabled or not, should have a parent like Jo.

“Jo has health issues of her own, but this doesn’t stop her having as much fun as possible and still fighting for the support Mia needs in school to be the independent woman she will one day become.”

Contact set up the awards to celebrate families who care for their disabled children.

Amanda Batten, CEO of Contact a Family said: "At Contact we often hear about when things go wrong for families, such as when they are struggling to get support for their child.

"This isn’t surprising as it’s what we are here for.

"But it’s important to recognise the things that go right too, and all the positives that come with being a family with a disabled child.

“I was touched to learn about the simple joy that Jo and her family have together.

"We really can't believe the number of wonderful nominations we have received to Contact’s Awards 2019 - it is going to be really difficult for our judges to shortlist the finalists.”

Shortlisted families are invited to an awards ceremony and reception at the members dining room at the Palace of Westminster, hosted by BBC Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey, where the winners will be announced.

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