When Life Gives You Lemons: Amelia Denton

I am loving this WLGYL series because it has introduced me to some incredible people.  Sometimes those people were under my nose and I've been able to look at them with new eyes.

I've known Amelia since she was a little girl.  She is my friend Suzanne's niece and my first meeting with her was when she was a bridesmaid at Suzanne's wedding 26 years ago (in fact it was Suzanne's husband, Jon, who first introduced me to Andy).

I really did not take much notice of Amelia at the time apart from noticing the fact that had a disability.  I knew nothing of disabilities in those days and I probably felt pity and maybe even a level of discomfort in engaging with her.  She was a little girl after all and communicating with children, let along children with disabilities was not something on my radar in those days.

But I am so fortunate to have got to know Amelia the person.  I've seen her grow up through Suzanne's eyes as she posted pictures of Amelia's achievements, always the proud Auntie.  And now I know Amelia the woman, the mother, the person who wants to make a difference, and I'd like you to get to know her too........

picture of amelia in a striped dress holding a one year old elliot on her lap, elliot is wearing a babygro, amelia is smiling at the camera
Amelia and her son, Elliot

Tell me how life has given you lemons?

I had a birth defect on the top of my spine, it meant that I was born with cerebral palsy.  This gives me trouble with my speech, walking and motor skills.

And so how have you made lemonade?

When someone says I can’t do something… it makes me determined to do it!  When I was born the doctors told mum I would never be able to walk. By the age of four I was doing my version of walking.

I gained my GCSE's and qualifications and as a result a place at University where I then gained a degree.  I passed my driving test (after four attempts) which gives me independence.

I applied for jobs after Uni, it was hard work but then I was employed by the charity, Scope and it was while I was working there I met the man I was to fall in love with and marry.

My husband said he didn't want children….. and guess what, a beautiful lively boy now completes our family!   My husband says I’m stubborn but  I say determined!   It can take me a long time to achieve what I want but I normally get there in the end.

What have you discovered about yourself (that you maybe didn’t know before)?

I know that I can achieve something if  I believe in my self.  It's not been easy but I set my mind to it and I have achieved more than many other women my age!

In hindsight, is there anything you would do differently?

I don't think I would have worried so much, everything does seem to work out in the end. Although I was born a worrier. So maybe I shouldn’t analyse situations and worry before they have even happened!

What would you consider to be your biggest strength(s)?

My husband says I’m extremely thoughtful and like to surprise people, although this can lead to spending too much money, which is my least strong point!

What has been the best advice you have been given?

Try to be yourself, not worry what others think (although I do struggle with this)

How do you want to be remembered?

The best mum to my son.. and for the funny stories that have happened to me, like when I thought I was being mugged in my car… turns out a man was rescuing me, as my car was on fire!

What advice would you give other people when life gives them lemons?

Always remember your lemonade! And how you made it.

Amelia in a wedding dress kissing her husband Andy on their wedding day
Amelia and her husband Andy on their wedding day

When I was chatting to Amelia recently she told me how people often speak to her husband and not to her because of her difficulties with speech.  She told me how when she was just a week away from delivering her gorgeous little boy she sat in a meeting with social services to plan the support needed after birth and was made to feel like she had done something wrong in choosing to have a child.  She was dreading her assessment for Personal Independence Payment in case her car was taken away, the car that gives her the independence she needs and allows her to be a mother to her son.

Can you imagine it?  Amelia is a highly educated, articulate young mother yet because she also happens to have a disability everything is so much more difficult for her. With her experience and her ability to challenge the preconceptions of what she should be able to do, Amelia is such a brilliant role model for other young people with disabilities and for parents of disabled children.  

Amelia is hoping to be able to use her experience to help others, through training and support for organisations and groups working with and supporting people with disabilities.  She's such an incredible role model and her talent and determination needs to be harnessed to help others.  (If you want to get in touch with Amelia please contact me via my blog, she's based in Hampshire, UK)

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