Our mum is a real hero

THREE children with Down's syndrome today expressed their heartfelt gratitude to their Ipswich mother whose “heart of gold” has touched the lives of people with disabilities.

THREE children with Down's syndrome today expressed their heartfelt gratitude to their Ipswich mother whose “heart of gold” has touched the lives of people with disabilities.

Barbara Thorn, of Norwich Road, has proved an inspiration to other parents whose children have special needs after she adopted Ian, John and Dorothy.

Now the siblings have nominated her for a Stars of Suffolk Award (Unsung Heroine of the Year category) for the love she gives them and the tireless fundraising she does as chairwoman of Ipswich Mencap.

Writing to The Evening Star, John, 24, said: “My mum is my friend and she loves me lots.”

Dorothy, 27, wrote: “I love my mum because she organises the events.”

Ian, 26, added: “My mum has worked with us by arranging sponsored spelling and sponsored swimming.”

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Mrs Thorn and her ex-husband, who passed away in 1992, adopted the children when they were very young and she has never looked back.

She said: “It gives me so much joy because they are so grateful. Whatever you do it is a great pleasure. You never know what's round the corner but you face it.”

The 57-year-old also has a 15-year-old son called Daniel and a 34-year-old daughter called Sarah.

And Mrs Thorn's caring nature appears to know no bounds - as was highlighted when a friend, Mel Moyes, became homeless after a marriage break-up.

During his distress, she took him into her home - and he has become part of the family while living there for the last 11 years.

Mr Moyes, 59, said: “She also helped to look after my mum when my dad died. She just loves to help people and has got a heart of gold. She'll help anybody.”

She also displayed immense resilience when a heart condition left Ian fighting for his life.

Ian had two holes in his heart and required surgery twice over the last two years at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital in London.

Mrs Thorn said: “The first time was horrendous. The second time we didn't know if he was going to come out alive.

“If it hadn't been for my Mencap colleagues I would have gone to pieces. Thankfully he came through it.”

BARBARA Thorn today spoke of her admiration for parents who look after children with special needs.

Mrs Thorn adopted three children with Down's syndrome from families who were not able to keep them.

She said: “Dorothy was born to an American couple, but she hindered their lifestyle and Ian had young parents who couldn't cope.

“John was born to parents in their late 40s. They didn't feel they could cope with children with special needs.

“They had two older daughters and they told them that the baby had died at birth. They had their own reasons. If it was me I don't think I could give them up.”

Her views come after it emerged that more parents were choosing to keep babies with Down's syndrome because they felt society was more supportive.

The Down's syndrome Association surveyed 1,000 parents to find out why they had chosen not to terminate despite a positive test result during screening.

Three in ten said life had improved for people with Down's and that society took a much more positive attitude.

Mrs Thorn said: “My other daughter, Sarah, is pregnant and she said she didn't want the tests. I am very proud of her.

“Sometimes it is hard to accept a child who has needs. Mothers who keep them are special.”

Around one in every 1,000 babies born in the UK will have Down's syndrome.

There are 60,000 people in the UK with the condition.

Down's syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in a baby's cells.

Down's syndrome is not a disease, but people with the syndrome will have a degree of learning difficulty.

Most people with Down's syndrome will walk and talk and many will read and write, go to ordinary schools and lead fulfilling, semi-independent lives.

The average life expectancy for a person with Down's syndrome is between 50 and 60.

SOURCE: The Down's Syndrome Association.


The Stars of Suffolk Awards is a search for community heroes and heroines and is a joint venture between The Evening Star and Suffolk County Council.

We want you to nominate someone who has touched your life or the lives of others for a special award.

The nominations will be judged by an independent panel and the winners revealed at a multimedia gala evening at the county council's Endeavour House on Thursday, February 5.

The closing date for entries will be on Friday, January 16.

To nominate, please fill out the form below or you can e-mail your entry to Simon Tomlinson at simon.tomlinson@eveningstar.co.uk. Alternatively, you can visit www.eveningstar.co.uk to download a form.