A Newton woman whose experiences as the parent of a little girl suffering from a life-limiting condition inspired her to found a charity has been nominated for a Your Champions award.
Mum-of-three Jemma Gregory came up with the idea for Space when her youngest daughter Isabelle, who has mitochondrial disease, was just six months old.
Mitochondrial disease causes debilitating physical, developmental and cognitive disabilities and brings about symptoms such as poor growth, muscle weakness and pain, seizures, learning disabilities and organ failure.
Born at 35 weeks, doctors expected Isabelle only had weeks to live and would never be able to breathe by herself.
But Isabelle, who Jemma calls their ‘little miracle’, defied the odds and started attending a special needs school in January.
Space provides specialist drop-in play sessions in the Chester area for children with additional needs.
Jemma said: “Being a parent of a child with special needs is a very lonely place to be.
“I found there was very little support. I didn’t want this to be the case for others in the same situation and realised there was so much support to be gained from other parents.
“Our Space sessions are giving parents that opportunity whilst also giving children with special needs a fun, safe, accessible environment to play in.”
More than 70 children attend the stay and play sessions, and a pre-school group will be launched in the coming months along with regular parent coffee mornings.
Jemma’s dedication is such that she was picked as the local hero to open the B&M store on Chester Retail Park in May.
Her friend Claire Edge, who nominated her for the honour, described Jemma as the ‘backbone’ of Space.
On her nomination for Champion Person of the Year, Jemma said: “I feel truly honoured to have been nominated for this award. I have been fortunate enough to have a fantastic team to help me launch Space.
“Our long-term aim is a multi-sensory play centre.”