A Tandragee mum-of-three, who has managed to run a successful business despite a number of family and personal challenges, has won a ‘Most Inspiring Parents’ award.
Dianne McKew (41), whose son Josh has a rare bowel disease, travelled to London last week with husband Jonathan to be presented with joint second place in the Uk-wide Mum & Working Awards.
Josh, now aged 17, has just finished his GCSEs and loves quad biking, but it is a stage which Dianne feared he would not survive to see.
Josh was born with a rare condition called eosinophilic colitis, a rare disease in which a type of white blood cells called eosinophil appears in large elevated numbers in the large intestine. These then cause injury pain and inflammation.
However, it took four years for Josh to get a diagnosis - his was the only confirmed case in Northern Ireland - and Dianne had to give up her job in the DoE to care for him.
The stress took its toll and Dianne suffered from post-natal depression, not only after Josh’s birth but after the birth of Harry (6), who doctors also feared at one point might have the same condition as his brother. Her middle son Jack is aged 10.
Said Dianne, “It was only thanks to my faith, which is paramount; my husband, who is a brilliant man; and my parents Sammy and Ann Gillis, that I got through it.”
Dianne decided to return to work three years ago and became an independent seller for the designer jewellery brand Miglio. She has been one of their top five sellers in the whole of the UK for the past two years running.
Rebekah Patterson, Miglio’s regional sales manager for Ireland, said Dianne had astounded them with her determination and drive.
Along with family and friends, she had also raised thousands of pounds for Daisy Hill Children’s Ward in recognition of their care and support for Josh.
“She really is an inspiring parent,” she added.
Although Josh’s condition is chronic, he has learned to manage it and, says Dianne, “has a great attitude and resilience”.
He has started working in the new family business, Button Farm Mushrooms, and is considering going to Loughry College next year.
The family has paid tribute to the medical team who work with Josh - GP Dr Karen Webster of Markethill Health Centre, Ashley Moffet, the dietitian at Daisy Hill Hospital, and James Hughes, paediatric consultant.