Emma Hall - winner of Britain's Best Volunteer 2014

Founder and Chair, Stepping Stone Down's Syndrome support group

 Emma Hall, founder and chair of Stepping Stone Down's Syndrome support group and winner of Britain's Best Volunteer being presented with a cheque of £1,250.

Emma set up Stepping Stones Down’s Syndrome support group 8 years ago following the birth of her daughter, Isla, who was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome. Emma was nominated by Sarah Sutton, Ali Futcher, James Maw, Sharon Smith, Joanna Elkes and Claire Symington.

Realising that support was scarce in her region for families with children that have Down’s Syndrome, Emma’s initiative and determination has seen Stepping Stones DS grow from a monthly coffee morning to now support over 100 families across Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey.

In addition to running the group itself, Emma offers emotional support and training for parents, as well as coordinating the organisation of a number of events, including horse riding and drama for the children, speech and language therapy, and days out for the whole family.

Emma has also lent her valuable experience from volunteering for Stepping Stones DS to similar groups in different areas in order to help them flourish and support other families.

"I will never stop being grateful to Stepping Stones, they taught me to enjoy my child and stop being fearful.”

After a closely fought public vote which saw over 2,000 votes cast, Emma received the most votes and was presented with a £1,250 cheque for Stepping Stones DS, and a holiday voucher worth £1,000 for her own personal use.

On hearing she had won the award, Emma said “It is wonderful to be recognised for something that I love doing. We have the most amazing team at Stepping Stones DS, who help to make it a wonderful group to be part of. I like to keep busy and once I gave up work, volunteering was a way to get out and meet new people whilst also having lots of fun. I have made such great friends along the way, and hopefully our work together for Stepping Stones DS has made a difference in the local community.”

Emma added that the £1,250 donation will be put towards a new fund intended to secure permanent premises for the charity.

The Stepping Stones DS support group with members of the charity stood in a play area smiling with a cheque of £1250 from Markel Direct and the Small Charities Coalition.

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