Amazing people awards

Each year Practical Parenting honours those people who've made a real difference to our readers' lives. You vote for them...we reward them. Find out the heartwarming stories of our latest amazing people


Parent of the year

Our Parent of the Year as sponsored by our very good friends at Dentinox is James Cavanagh.


James was nominated by his wife Paula who described him as ‘her rock’, saying that she really couldn’t have gotten through the events of the last three years without him.

Losing twins into her pregnancy left Paula struggling with depression and suicidal, but James was always there for her. Both were overjoyed with Paula got pregnant again, but a problematic pregnancy nearly killed Paula and meant a very premature and very sick baby Grace.

‘James helped me through’ says Paula. ‘If I ever doubt myself as a parent he’s there to tell me I’m doing a good job or just provide a shoulder to cry on.” This lovely family welcomed baby Jonah in early 2010 and Paula calls James ‘the best daddy anybody could wish for.’ What an endorsement!


Business parent of the year

One of our hardest fought awards is Business Parent of the Year. With so many mums struggling to find a post-baby career that fits around their family we thought Wendy Shand’s story was truly inspiring.

Wendy had a real lightbulb moment while on holiday. When her son fell into the swimming pool at her holiday villa she started to realise that there was a market for truly family friendly holiday properties. And so, when she got home, she set about setting up that very business. now has properties in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and the UK, turns over around 350k a year and employs mums around the world.


Health visitor of the year

Health visitors are truly one of the unsung heroes of parenting, which is why this award is always a really special one to us here at Practical Parenting.
Suzi beaman from Plymstock, Devon wrote to tell us how impressed she was with the helpful but impartial advice she’d received from her health visitor Jane West on immunisations.

Jane’s help (often above and beyond the call of duty) helped Suzi to make an informed decision. “We’re very lucky to have a health visitor like her,” says Suzi. Congratulations Jane West, the Practical Parenting Health Visitor of the Year.


Midwife of the year

The winner of our Midwife of the Year award was nominated by incredibly grateful mum Kate Fever. Colleen Higham spotted the early signs of postnatal depression in Kate and encouraged her to seek help.

Colleen was also there for Kate when she was apprehensive about having baby number two because she was worried in case the PND returned.  In fact, her fabulous midwife even inspired Kate to change careers and she’s now training as a midwife herself. “If it wasn’t for her amazing support I don’t know where me or my family would be today.” Well done to Colleen, our Midwife of the Year.


Nursery/pre-school of the year

Our Nursery/pre school of the year as sponsored by Little People from Fisher Price. We received a lovely letter from Emma Linskey who’s son George, 3, has Autistic Spectrum Disorder. When she received the diagnosis, Emma was worried she’d have to send George to a specialist nursery, but the team at Smallworld nursery in Staindrop County Durham pulled out all the stops for George, even arranging for an expert to come in one evening and explain all about the condition.

George can now say full sentences and his interaction with other children has developed dramatically and Emma believes this is in no small part down to Smallworld Nursery. So it’s a big thanks to the team at Smallworld from Practical Parenting, Emma and George.


Jo Frost Angel Award

Hazel Cunningham, 29, from Glasgow, nominated Lorna Donald for the first-ever Angel award, judged by Practical Parenting’s own Jo Frost.

“Ever since My daughter Maisie, 2, was born, life had been such a struggle. I suffered pre-eclampsia and pneumonia. It was a worrying time. Then after Mia, 1, was born I had pre-eclampsia again. And just when we thought things were getting better, in March I suffered a prolapsed disc in my back and was confined to bed.

“Lorna rang the doorbell one day and offered to help. We’d met through work and she lived up the road. Some days she offered to shop or play with the girls, and others we’d just sit and watch TV together, having a natter. It was just the pick me up I needed.

“One day Lorna came round and found me sitting in the living room, still not dressed. ‘Come on, we’re going shopping,’ she said. She wasn’t taking no for an answer. Before I knew it I was in the café having coffee – and felt so much better for it. It was a real turning point. At that moment I knew she was my angel.”


Birth story of the year

When Lisa Mayles, 31, from Derbyshire went to the bathroom between contractions she had no idea baby Leo, now 2, was going to make such a speedy entrance. “It wasn’t going to the loo I needed, and I got the biggest shock of my life when I felt my baby’s head crowning.

“I stayed calm, managing to talk Steve, my husband, through the delivery. When the head was fully out I told him to check the cord wasn’t around the baby’s neck and to be careful when catching him as he would be very slippery.

“As Steve guided the baby into a towel only 3 minutes after I first went to the loo, we both just stared at each other in complete shock at what we had just achieved.


“The ambulance arrived a minute after the birth and myself, Steve, baby Leo and two paramedics were crammed into our tiny en-suite as they let Steve cut the cord.”

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