Charlotte Hawkins

To kick start the new year, we invited our 0–6-year-old members to join us for a Storytime with Charlotte Hawkins event. Charlotte, the Good Morning Britain, and Strictly Come Dancing Star, had previously supported our Online Conference in 2021.

In preparation for the event, we worked together with Charlotte to choose a story which would be suitable for this age range of members, we chose one of her favourite stories, The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield. The story was so beautifully read on front of Charlotte’s very own piano. As she sat at her piano, she played us some tunes, sharing with us what inspired her piano playing, and which songs she finds tricky to play. She showed us the items that surround her piano- which included a family photograph! Charlotte told our members that piano playing is one of her favourite hobbies and that she is encouraging her own daughter to learn too!

We listened to some ‘Baby Enstein’ classical music while completing a piano themed craft. Charlotte invited our members to listen in to her classical radio programme on Sunday nights between 7 & 9pm, ‘Smooth Classics at Seven’ (especially if they were unable to sleep!)

Ten children with CMN joined us, alongside their nine siblings! This event was a huge success, with one parent reflecting, “Thank you so much for arranging this morning! Our whole family had a lovely time.” In past surveys, our members have told us that siblings are core to tackling negative attitudes towards visible difference and are at times more impacted by other people’s reactions than the child with CMN themselves. Adding to this, that some children with CMN experience complications linked to CMN meaning a careful balance is sought for siblings as parents attend hospital appointments. With this in mind, building resilience and confidence in siblings affected by CMN is important to us as a charity.

This event is just one example of our Online Communities which run between October and March. During these early ages of 0-6 years old the parents learn so much about CMN, encountering changes all the time as their children grow. This event enabled ten families to stay online at the end of the structured session to ask questions and to listen in to others.

Even at this young age, meeting other children who have CMN and being part of a community reduces feelings of isolation for children growing up with a visible difference. Thanks to Charlotte, our team of volunteers, our members, and their families for being a part of this event, and this community. Building organic relationships through these positive experiences will have a huge impact our families!

Cottom family