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Here’s the wonderful Paula and her wonderful escapades! While other children were dreaming of becoming an astronaut, fireman or race car driver, Paula was suffering severe anxiety. By her own admission, she missed out on a childhood. It was only when a chance photo on her 30th birthday made her realise she was living life in hiding that something changed in her soul. With the support of her husband, Paula overcame her anxieties and started making up for lost time.

All those childhood dreams other kids had? Paula’s tried them all now. She’s a testament to what you can achieve when you refuse to let anything hold you back and she’s also an absolute dream to work with and write about.

If you’ve had some wild adventures, get in touch today, we love adventures here at Phoenix…

Paula is out in this week’s Best. An aptly named title for her new life!

And found! Here’s the story of beautiful Bethany, a young lady looking for love on Channel 4’s Undateables. While her TV dates didn’t work out, a chap called Tom was watching and took a shine to our Beth. Through mutual contacts he got in touch and the rest, as they say, is history! Tom and Beth have been together over a year now and are madly in love. He tells her she’s beautiful every day, which is just what Bethany needed to hear.

Huge thanks to Bethany’s mum Bekki for sharing their lovely story with me.

To find out more about Down’s syndrome and get support from other parents in the community, visit the Future of Down’s website.

Out in Take a Break this week!

Kim Willis from Phoenix Features accepts the award of Feature of the Year from Tony Gallagher, Editor in Chief of the Sun.

Oh look it’s me! Here I am accepting my award for ‘Feature Story of the Year’ at the NAPAs, my industry’s answer to the Oscars. It is a great privilege to get to write about so many amazing people and when I was writing this particular story, I knew it was something extra special. Writing for Fabulous Magazine, I described how SuperDad Gary had taken sole custody of his son after breaking up with his ex. As if that wasn’t amazing enough, the baby had various behavioural problems and was diagnosed with foetal alcohol syndrome, as a result of the mother drinking through the pregnancy. There is no cure and it lasts a lifetime.

While organising custody, Gary found out that this child is not his biological son. Did he run? No he did not.

I’m so proud of Gary and so pleased with the story we worked hard on. I shall include it below.

It was a lovely awards ceremony in London and I got to catch up with lots of my editors. Usually there’s an air of doom and gloom for the future of our industry, but this year things felt different. There was talk of stable readership figures and healthy budgets. So, perhaps I don’t have to retrain as a yoga teacher just yet…

 

 

 

All the night’s winners for the various categories.

Gary’s story in Fabulous

 

Father’s Day is nearly upon us and so it seemed like an apt time to write about my old man… Unusually even now, let alone back in the 1980s, my dad brought me up by himself. A single dad with a penchant for danger… what could possibly go wrong?! Somehow, I’ve turned out relatively unscathed.

In Prima magazine this month, I pay tribute to the madcap adventurer who turned my childhood into a grazed-knees, sunny, competitive party, with prizes at every turn. Thank you Papa.

Catch us in Prima this month!

If you’d like to tell a story for Father’s Day, please get in touch today. We love dads over here!

DANIELSrachelTAB (Large)Hello everyone! Happy World Down’s syndrome Day – a momentous global celebration uniting every corner of the world. You can read more about the events taking place here. 

Last year I wrote a blog charting all the stories I’d been lucky enough to write in the preceding 12 months, and I did the same the year before… Here I am again! I am so, so proud to have written so many life-affirming stories about extraordinary people in the Down’s syndrome community, who have kindly welcomed me into their fold. Together, we have championed Down’s syndrome and illustrated over and over again that Down’s syndrome is no impediment to a fulfilling, happy and rewarding life, that society need not fear Down’s syndrome, that we are, in fact, lucky to know these talented, charming, confident, gorgeous individuals.

NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing) continues to gather pace and what I’d like to be writing about this time next year, is that the NHS retrained all medical professionals in the reality of Down’s syndrome, so that the inevitable increase in prenatal diagnoses is accompanied by a fresh and realistic portrayal of what life might have in store. To screen out Down’s syndrome would be to create a society lacking diversity and says more about society than it does about Down’s syndrome.

To the Down’s syndrome community I say I love you and I say thank you. Thank you for continuing to let me write about and celebrate you. Here’s this year’s collective of our stories: Read more

FREEDdaveReveal (Large)I love working on stories like this – in Reveal this week, we look at Shared Parental Leave and why, despite a government scheme introduced two years ago to encourage dads to take a longer paternity leave, so few men actually are. Dave champions the joys of taking a longer leave and makes some really salient points about his career being no more or less important than his wife’s. A true feminist! His leave has meant a special and deep bond has formed with baby James and I hope his story inspires more fathers to take that extra time off.

Out now in Reveal! Please get in touch today if you’d like to share your thoughts on this topic.

ANDREWSsteffBella (Large)Oh crumbles, we just love a good love story here at Phoenix towers! This is the beautiful story of star-crossed young lovers, Steff and Ryan, who fell in love at just 13 years old. An accidental pregnancy turned their world upside down – the pair longed to stay together and bring up the baby together, but with Steff being treated like an outcast at school for her baby bump, and Ryan’s parents refusing to let the pair see each other, their love was at a loss. Years ticked by and Steff resigned herself to raising their child alone.

Ryan never stopped loving Steff and after six years, broke the silence, requesting to meet his daughter. It was a huge decision for Steff, but she agreed to meet Ryan and the moment she saw him, she felt like a 13 year old all over again. They’re now living happily ever after. Yay!

Out in this week’s Bella. We love a reunion, so if you have a story of tracking down a long lost love, get in touch today!

drummondleannebella-page-001This is the story all about how a little girl called Matilda found her way into the world and changed the lives of everyone who was lucky enough to know and love her. Mum Leanne had three children already and was so sure she didn’t want any  more that she was sterilised. Years later, Leanne remarried and her new hubby didn’t have kids of his own. Could Leanne have her sterilisation reversed? Luckily, yes, and not only do the happy couple now have Matilda, but they have another baby on the way too!

Leanne had seen me post lots of my stories for the Down’s syndrome community on Facebook and had always wanted to tell her own. I was so pleased when she got in touch and told me her amazing story – it was an honour to write about Matilda, the little champion.

In this week’s Bella magazine. Please get in touch if you’ve got an amazing family story you’d like to share!

yorklejlabellaThis is the story of Lejla, a young woman struck with breast cancer, determined to fight with a smile on her face. Her indomitable spirit was such a joy to write about. Cancer pushed Lejla to try new things, get a divorce and eventually, fall in love with new fella Chris. She was warned on many occasions that her cancer drugs would affect her fertility and so she accepted it was highly unlikely she’d fall pregnant. Instead, Lejla discovered she was having twins, and no-one had mentioned that one of her drugs is also a known fertility booster. It’s a truly incredible happy ending for a lovely family.

Out in this week’s Bella to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you’d like to share a story about cancer, please do get in touch today.

So proud of this family – a raw and honest account of what happens when a father struggles with depression after the birth of his children. Paternal postnatal depression is rarely talked about. Men are supposed to be big tough guys aren’t they? Therein lies the problem – men feel like they can’t talk about their feelings, further exacerbating the loneliness and isolation. Matt and Lesley have opened up about their experiences in the hopes of encouraging other men to talk. Because talking is half the solution…

If you’re in need of help and support with any of the issues raised in this feature, please do visit nct.org.uk for more information.

To share your own experiences with us, please get in touch today. Lesley’s story is in this week’s Woman’s Own.