A MOTHER and daughter from Chellaston have both been named Beacons of Hope in a brand-new awards scheme aimed at recognising the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Derbyshire Beacon of Hope awards – a collaboration between Derby City CouncilDerbyshire County Council, the Lord-Lieutenant and High Sheriff of Derbyshire – was created to identify and thank groups or individuals who have worked tirelessly to keep communities safe and businesses moving during COVID-19.

Chrissa Wadlow, who runs the not-for-profit organisation Sunshine Support, was nominated for going ‘above and beyond’ to support the growing numbers of parents of children with special educational needs who reached crisis point during the 2020 lockdowns. Chrissa worked seven days a week – including Christmas Day – to ensure families received support.

Meanwhile her nine-year-old daughter Marnie Wadlow was put forward for the award after launching a campaign to provide families in need with food and drink for Christmas dinner, giving up her own pocket money to pay for food.

The pair were presented with certificates to mark their achievements by Derbyshire’s Deputy Lord Lieutenant Terry McDermott during a ceremony at Chellaston Junior School.

Chrissa said: “We are both absolutely thrilled to have received these awards and have no idea who nominated us for them, which almost makes it more special.

I am enormously proud of Marnie who is a little warrior and always thinking about other people. She knew that some people would really struggle to have a nice Christmas meal in 2020 and was determined to do something about it. She donated her own money and we gave her some of Sunshine Support’s community fund so she could shop for festive food.

And to receive an award for my work is wonderful. Everyone at Sunshine Support worked incredibly long hours – sometimes 100 hours a week – to support parents who were at their wits end during the pandemic.

The hard work is not over, but to know that it is appreciated and recognised in this way, is really very rewarding.”

Sunshine Support has expanded its team from two people at the start of 2020 to 17 people today just to help deal with the increasing number of requests for help.

The organisation was launched in 2017 and has supported thousands of families across the country. It does not receive money from public funding streams, to ensure it remains impartial, and puts any profits back into the communities that it supports, offering direct help to children, assessing their needs and helping parents successfully apply for an Education Health Care Plan where required.

This year the organisation is extending its service to teachers, providing advice on the formation of Education Health Care Plans (EHCP) and their reviews, Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunals (SENDIST) and auditing SEN provision in specialised and mainstream settings.

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