Erika Petrie made a promise to god that she would make a difference if her daughter survived.

Iffat Bashir contacted us to nominate Erika Petrie as her hero having started an amazing organisation called Shades of Different, which can be found on her website https://shadesofdifferent.com/. Erika has a child who has special needs – Downs Syndrome and she has created an awareness campaign to educate people more about this condition in children. Erika has a live blog in process which allows parents to join in discussion and to receive support from one another, not only for Downs Syndrome, but also other child related conditions. Finally she also organises fundraising events for charities. Although she has set this up a few years ago, she has worked exceedingly hard during lockdown to advance this cause and I thought it would be a brilliant story for your website My Heroes & Villains.

Whilst Erika thoiught her daughter would die, she wrote and recorded a song on u-tube which she has shared publicly and can be viewed below. It is a very moving song and through the video you will be able to see her love for her child and the passion she has for this noble cause.

Erika said of her journey,: ‘During lockdown I managed to get us published in Bournemouth Echo and Blandford Forum Focus (April issue) by issuing a press release with the help of Diverse Abilities. The DSA also published a live blog for us towards end of March as well. During March we went to studio radio shows at Hospital Radio Bedside, Forest FM and Radio Wimborne. We then managed to be on the radio twice over the phone on 20th March just before World Down Syndrome Day on both Hope FM and Forest FM. We also wrote an article for our local and community parish magazine which was published in their April Good News Magazine for the St Leonard’s and St Ives area. Thanks to some of my LinkedIn contacts we then connected with Jo Thackray at Inspire Radio, a positive internet radio based in Yorkshire, which is active in 21 countries and were on a radio show with them on 14th May which was then broadcast on 3rd June. Thanks to Kim’s contacts we have now managed to connect with Wycombe Sound who interviewed us yesterday and we have an interview lined up with Marlow FM on 8th July. During this time I have been liaising with our IT manager, Greg Lumley in South Africa who this week has made the live blog of our website officially LIVE so we can have a real platform with which to exchange views and so really give a voice and promote inclusion for these children worldwide. The video has recently been made more inclusive to include sign language as of mid to late May thanks to a voluntary collaboration with a BSL interpreter by the name of Marie Lyn Biswell, whom I connected with on FB through a BSL support group. I have promoted the website on both FB, LinkedIn, Whatsapp and time a smaller extent Instagram and Twitter where a member of the BBC declared some interest as well. I have also sent the website to some friends of mine in the States who are trying to promote it for me there including the DSA in the States as well.’

We are deeply moved to not only learn of this heroes story and her compulsion to make a difference following what she states as ‘her commitment to God for saving her daughter’ but the humility and strength shown through our interview with her. Erika has had an impact on so many already not least Iffat Bashir who we thank for sharing her story with us.

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