Little Jake O’Boyle is an inspirational youngster – he inspired the Group President and Chief Executive of the international company Sembcorp Industries to award him over £1,000.
The Sembcorp initiative was set up by Neil McGregor, based in Singapore, for employees who have children with special needs.
And while the O’Boyle family were delighted with the £1,100 award – they decided not to keep it to spend directly on Jake but to donate the money to Daisy Chain where Jake loves to visit with his family.
Dad David, an IT engineer with industrial energy firm Sembcorp Utilities UK in Wilton, and mum Melissa didn’t hesitate when they learned they were successful in winning the award for Jake. David says, ‘Neil recognised that families with children with special educational needs had a lot to deal with and that inspired him to start the annual award initiative. The money is intended to facilitate Jake’s needs if he needs any special equipment, for example, or any particular care. However, Jake doesn’t need anything like that but he does need Daisy Chain. We expect him to access services at Daisy Chain for a long time so it seemed the right thing to do.
‘After Jake was diagnosed with autism, there seemed to be little support for us as a family apart from Daisy Chain which is not government funded and is completely charitable so we wanted to give our support. It is fantastic that Daisy Chain is for the whole family too.’
David and Melissa hope daughter Ellie, 13, Jake’s sister will be able to attend the after-school Sibz Group and the whole family enjoy the monthly high needs activities day.
Melissa explains, ‘Jake struggles with mainstream environments, so he can’t go to an ordinary soft play. He has a sensory processing disorder so a lot of sensory issues and he is often overwhelmed by the end of the school week. It can be hard to even get him out of the house on a weekend but Daisy Chain is somewhere he can relax and enjoy the activities. That gives us the chance to all relax together as a family.’
The Middlesbrough family first heard of Daisy Chain when Jake was undergoing diagnosis and visited the day centre and farm at Norton. ‘We discovered there was a lot Daisy Chain could do for us even before Jake was received a diagnosis which was brilliant. It’s great to be among other families who really understand any issues you have and no-one judges you.’
David and Melissa are now going to attend the Early Bird Plus programme at Daisy Chain for parents.