A 5-Year-Old Young Carer from Andover wins Recognition Award

A 5-year-old young carer from Andover wins recognition for staying home through the pandemic to help protect her big sister, 7-year-old Frankie, who has Down syndrome. 

SISTERS, Frankie & Riley

Donna, wife and mother to Frankie, 7y and Riley 5y, from Andover was delighted to realise that Riley who is a young carer for her older sister Frankie was in for a big surprise.

Back in December after 5 months of lockdown and shielding, Donna’s sister Nickie and next door neighbour nominated Riley for a recognition award, a competition that was being run by our local fire station. As a station they wanted to “Bring a little cheer to some of the children of Andover”. They were recognising children that deserved a special treat, who maybe that have had a particularly hard 2020.  The decision was made to nominate Riley because for 5 months she stayed home, stayed safe, and helped mum, Donna look after and protect her big sister Frankie from the outside world.

Husband and father Scott has been working throughout the pandemic and a hero in the his families eyes. He has been working throughout this pandemic leaving Donna home to care for their two daughter’s alone.

It was just us girls at home all day, everyday. We never left our home, we didn’t go out for a daily walk, we were literally confined to our four walls and garden, It was hard on both girls, Riley took it all in her stride and understood the importance of keeping Frankie extra safe, said Donna.

“She was amazing, she did everything she could to help with her sister, she helped Frankie with her school work, she became my little photographer taking photos for Frankie’s school journal, joining in with colours or school tasks, and always encouraging her sister. If we baked she ensured Frankie got to lick a spoon too, she was just awesome,” said Donna.

Mum, Donna, remembered when Riley was announced as a winner of the competition in December, I wrote a blog about it, where I stated typically this sort of thing (winning prizes) I would usually say “no thank you, please pass on to someone who may need those gifts more” (my children want for nothing, they are very lucky in that respect), but for once I said YES. 

Riley’s parents thought she really deserved this, she deserved the recognition for being an absolute superstar sister, said Donna. Mum tells us that, “the only thing she understood about coronavirus was that it could potentially make her sister very very poorly and that was all that was needed to be said.

Riley would do anything to protect Frankie.

On the 21st December 2020 with their sirens blaring, Andover Fire Station pulled into the families close,

Riley’s face was a picture (I still well up thinking about it), she was buzzing (it also helped that Frankie being the hugest Fireman Sam Fan was also enjoying the treat), then Santa came out of the fire truck with SOOOO MANY presents for her. I think it’s the only time I can recall she has ever been speechless.

Riley was invited to go and spray the fire hose, honestly it was the most amazing treat. It’s a day she will never forget that’s for sure. As she said thank you and goodbye the sirens were put on again. I’ve never seen a child so overwhelmed with emotion, Donna said.

For once it wasn’t about Frankie, what we have to do for Frankie, how she could help me with Frankie… In that moment it was all about HER!

Follow the family HERE.



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