Burton and South Derbyshire is bursting with unsung heroes who always go above and beyond when it comes to helping others.
Not all heroes wear capes though and many of our unsung heroes often don’t get the recognition they deserve. Now they will as this is everything our Burton Mail Heroes Awards aims to celebrate.
There are 10 categories this year and an overall winner.
Here we take a look at the finalists in the Mum of the Year category. This year, there has been some tough competition, but we can now reveal the three finalists.
All mums are brilliant but these three are truly inspirational. The winners will be announced at our awards night on Tuesday, September 24.
Dawn Dolman was left devastated when her son Kai Lambe, drowned in a tragic accident five years ago.
But she has kept his memory alive through annual football matches in his honour and constantly campaigns about the importance of water safety.
Kai had just turned nine when he got into difficulty while trying to save a friend in water near Tutbury Weir on the River Dove.
Now mum Dawn, 52, makes it her mission to warn others about the dangers of open water, by sharing her tragic story.
Miss Dolman, who lives in Heathway, Hatton, and is also mum to Tom and Ellie-May, has told Burton Live that it is “hard to put into words the devastation it has caused.”
She said: “Our lives have been changed forever and if this is what it takes to stop this from happening to others, I will shout it from the rooftops.”
She said: “Kai had a cheekiness about him and was always grinning from ear to ear, he was there for anybody.”
Football-mad Kai, was an avid fan of the sport, a keen supporter of Manchester United and Derby County and a player for Hatton United under 9s side.
He was a pupil at Heath Fields Primary School, and known for his ‘orange hair and cheeky grin’, and his love of camouflage.
Dawn said of making the finalists’ list: “I am so proud to be in the running. I am very surprised but it is a nice surprise.”
Also making it into the final is Sarah Parnell, mum to Mia, a schoolgirl whose life has been blighted by an undiagnosed condition.
Mia Parnell and her family have spent the last few years in limbo after the youngster suddenly became ill and started struggling with every day activities.
Despite the upheaval and uncertainty, Sarah continues to put on a brave face, caring for her daughter as Mia struggles with mobility and constant pain.
She does so knowing that Mia’s condition is life-limiting.
Sarah, 40, of Linton, who is also mum to Lydia and Callum, said: “The past few years have been a rollercoaster with Mia deteriorating so quickly and a few years ago we were told we wouldn’t see another Christmas with her.
“Recently I have noticed her slowing down more because she has more muscle wastage and nerve damage making things more tiring, but Mia is a true fighter who continues with strength and determination to keep her illness from taking over.
“The reality is her condition could change at any point but Mia always does her best to paint a smile on her face.”
“I am so proud of Mia and her determination in life. She inspires me every day.”
Sarah said she was left “gobsmacked” after making it as a finalist.
She said: “I am in total shock. If it was for Mia I would understand but I am gobsmacked. It can be hard because Mia needs special care but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I am grateful for every day that she is here.”
Tatenhill mum Michelle Gower, of Tatenhill, is a true example of a doting mum. Since her son Luke, now 14, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was six, she has fund-raised non-stop to provide him with specialist equipment to make him more comfortable.
Now she has moved her wedding forward in the hope the terminally ill teenager can be part of their special day.
Michelle is a full-time carer for Luke, who was a happy, active child before being diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy and type two respiratory distress.
She told Burton Live how Luke used to love playing football with his pals. But he started to get clumsy and was constantly falling over. After just 20 minutes of seeing him, doctors delivered the devastating news of Luke’s condition – and his family have been on a “rollercoaster ride” ever since.
Michelle, 42, said: “The past year has been really tough. Luke’s posture has changed which means he has been in a great amount of pain and he is now unable to go to school.
“He is now classed as needing 24 hour care and we have had to rethink how we do everything.
“Luke has been deemed medically unfit to travel because he gets so tired so if we are going out we have to plan like a military operation.
“His machines to help him breathe only have a four-hour battery life, so even if we just go shopping we have to time it right otherwise we will be putting his life at risk.
“The recovery period is horrendous. He will be sleepy for three or four days and he is always in pain so it is getting harder and harder for us to have family time.”
The youngster, who uses a wheelchair, needs help to breathe and requires round-the-clock care, but that does not stop him from playing on his Xbox games console, watching films, ‘annoying’ his sisters and listening to his pop hero Olly Murs.
Michelle, who also has two daughters Chloe and Paige, said she tries to make the most of her time with Luke and the pair love watching movies together.
She said: “We are very lucky to have Luke at the moment, which we are so grateful for, but the not knowing is the hardest part and I know the toll it takes on families.”
Despite Michelle’s devotion, she said she is shocked to be in the running for the award.
She said: “I am shocked. It is nice to get some recognition but I am just doing what any mum would.
“This has put a smile on my face because just recently Luke has taken a massive dip and we are just hoping and praying he will be with us at the wedding.”
The winner of the Mum of the Year award will be announced at the awards ceremony on September 24.
We will also be taking a look at the other finalists in the other Burton Heroes categories which include Inspirational Youngster, Extra Mile and Achievement Against all Odds.
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