World Down’s Syndrome Day falls on 21st March every year, and for 2024 the theme is “End the Stereotypes”. The idea is that everyone with Down’s Syndrome is unique and different, and that their condition does not define who they are. People with Down’s Syndrome can be first aid superheroes, just like anyone else - aged just 10, Millie Pearce leapt into action when her mum Heather collapsed at home. Mini First Aid chatted with Heather and we’re delighted to bring you their story this week!


Hi Heather, thanks so much for sharing Millie’s superhero story with Mini First Aid, can you tell us a bit about her?

Of course! Millie is now 11 years old and is a bubbly, sociable happy girl! Millie loves to dance and swim and adores fairies. She’s a really lovable little girl and is always giving people hugs. But she’s also extremely determined, very strong-willed and doesn’t let anything stop her – definitely her mother’s daughter! When she was born I was told about so many things Millie wouldn’t be able to do, but she went on to meet all her milestones early. As Millie’s mum, I’ve been determined she will live a normal life and I’m so proud of the young lady she is becoming.


How was it when you found out Millie had Down’s Syndrome Heather?

It was a shock of course and I think I grieved in a way for the child I thought I was having if that makes sense. I always say it wasn’t the journey we were expecting, but Millie has been a such a great tour guide!


I love that Heather, that’s a great way to put it!

It’s true, we’ve learned together and grown together and I’m passionate that people with Down’s Syndrome shouldn’t be treated any differently to the rest of us.


That really comes across Heather. Am I right that like lots of girls her age, Millie is a Girlguide?

Yes, she absolutely loves it and they do such amazing work with the girls. It was at Brownies, and then subsequently at Guides that Millie was lucky enough to have a class with Mini First Aid! Kate in Wolverhampton delivered the classes and Millie came home full of beans, talking about what she’d learnt. She’s got an absolutely great memory – we always say Millie is like an elephant – she never forgets!


Wow! That’s amazing to hear! And it was really important Millie knew first aid as you live with a health condition don’t you Heather?

Yes, I have something that sounds very complicated called Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation Tachycardia. Your heart rate should be around 80-85 beats a minute, but mine can go up to 230 beats a minute which can lead to me losing the use of my left arm and sometimes passing out. I have to take medication every day and can feel the effects daily in palpitations which leaves me feeling really drained.


Gosh, that sounds frightening Heather . . .

It can be yes. I’ve lived with it for a long time but the fact it can happen at any moment is what is worrying, especially as myself and Millie live alone. But we have good friends and neighbours and I’ve always told Millie to get help if anything happens to me, but it was so good to have that reinforced by Mini First Aid.


So tell us what happened when Millie had to step in and use her first aid knowledge Heather?

It was a normal school morning, a Thursday I think, and I was really tired. Millie knew I wasn’t right bless her. I was sat on the stairs doing breathing exercises to help with the palpitations but it was just getting worse and the last thing I remember was crawling on all fours to the living room. When I came round I realised Millie was on the phone talking to the paramedics – she’d found me unresponsive and had called 999 just like she’d been told! She was holding my hand and said “its ok mummy, I’m here!”. She was answering questions like “Are mummy’s eyes open?”, “Is she breathing?”. She was so calm, no freaking out, just her usual self, getting on with what needed to be done. The next thing the paramedics were at the door and Millie showed them where I was. She was upset at this stage as like any child, she knows ambulances mean things are serious. I had to be taken to hospital for extra checks so my best friend who is also Millie’s Godmother picked Millie up as she didn’t want to miss school!


How are you now Heather?

It took me 3 weeks to recover as it really frightens you when you have a big attack like that. I saw a cardiologist and there are things that can be done to improve my condition which I’m considering at the moment. I’ve only ever been to hospital in an emergency situation twice and whilst it’s not a nice thing to live with I count myself lucky as it could be so much worse.


I’m getting a really strong feeling that you’ve passed that positive attitude on to Millie, Heather! I bet that following her first aid heroics she got a lot of attention!

Everyone has been brilliant! Of course she went into school the morning it happened bursting to tell everyone, and the head teacher even gave her the top honour of the Headteacher’s Award in assembly! She also received the Mercia Star for showing initiative in response to an emergency from her local Brownie group. She was a little bit overwhelmed by all the attention but at the same time so proud of herself.


Millie, receiving her Mercia Star Award with mum Heather and Dad Adrian.


Has Millie’s story helped others Heather?

Oh definitely, even things like other mums saying they hadn’t thought to leave important numbers by the phone in case of emergency, or having an easy flow chart of what to do if anything goes wrong and your child has to step up to help. It’s all great awareness because you just never know when something might go wrong.


Heather, thank you so much for sharing Millie’s story. We’re so thrilled that she remembered everything so well from her Mini First Aid class and was able to jump into action when you needed her.

Well done Millie, you’re a first aid superhero and we are very proud of you!

Mini First Aid xxx

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