Chorley mum raises funds for deaf children’s charity which helps her son

BIG HEARTED shoppers and supermarket staff have helped a Chorley mum and her profoundly deaf little boy raise vital funds for a children’s charity.

Joanne Speakman, a sales assistant at Iceland in Market Walk shopping centre, organised a cake bake at the Chorley store and raised more than £300 for the National Deaf Children’s Society(NDCS).

The charity has been a constant source of advice and support to Joanne whose three-year-old son, Connor Whittaker, was diagnosed as profoundly deaf when he was just two weeks old.

Connor communicates using a mixture of sign language and lip reading which he is very good at. He also has very well developed speech despite his disability.

Joanne, 25, of Rivington Road, said: “Connor is the only deaf person in my family and so it was a shock when we found out but I remember thinking to myself at the time that I came in with the same little boy and I am going out with the same little boy.

“We have always tried to see it as a positive. A chance to learn something new and Connor copes amazingly with it all.

“He is such a happy and content child. He really does seem to take it all in his stride and never sees it as a problem. So we don’t either and it doesn’t stop him from having a go at anything.”

NDCS is the leading charity ‘dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and young people.’

One of its current national fundraising campaigns is the Big Cake Bake which aims to raise £10,000.

The charity supports around 45,000 deaf children and their families from diagnosis through to independence, offering impartial information and support in areas from audiology to education and social issues.

Recently Joanne and Connor attended a weekend workshop event which gave Joanne lots of advice about school applications and considering which one is best for her son’s needs.

It is this invaluable support which has prompted Joanne to raise money for the charity which she couldn’t have done without the support of her colleagues and customers.

She said: “We are a bit of a family here at Iceland and my friends here were fantastic. All I did was put up a sign to say I was doing it and every single member of staff did something to help from making cakes to standing with me on the stall for six and a half hours selling them.

“Our customers were so generous too and I was pretty amazed when I counted up to find we raised £325.”

Also impressed was Market Walk marketing manager, Annalisa Johnson, who said: “Joanne and her colleagues should be congratulated on their efforts for such a successful cake bake.

“It is a brilliant cause made especially poignant by little Connor who is one of the children who benefits directly from this charity and I would like to thank our generous shoppers for supporting the event and helping to raise this terrific amount of money.”

Her thanks were echoed by Clare Salter, NDCS Corporate, Community and Events Manager, who said: “We are very grateful to Joanne and Connor for taking part in our Big Cake Bake and raising money to support our vital work with deaf children.

“Every penny helps, and our £10,000 target will help us to deliver weekends for families whose child has just been diagnosed as deaf.

“These weekends are a lifeline for many parents, providing them with emotional support and much-needed information about their child’s deafness.”

“We encourage other families in Chorley to sign up to our Big Cake Bake campaign and help us continue our work to break down barriers for deaf children.”

To find out more about Market Walk shopping centre go to

For more information on NDCS and the Big Cake Bake go to

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