A WOMAN from Earley has today (June 19) been recognised by the Prime Minister for supporting families affected by sickle cell disease.

Hayley King is the founder of Cianna's Smile, which offers clear, practical information and support to families affected by the condition.

After finding out that her daughter, Cianna, had sickle cell disease at only a few days old, Hayley realised that there was limited information on the illness, and became dedicated to supporting others facing similar challenges.

Her advocacy training programme offers supporters the knowledge, skills and understanding to become a sickle cell advocate.

Another key part of Hayley’s work is to reduce the isolation experienced by those affected by sickle cell, by offering days out for the families in the Thames Valley area.

Every three months, Cianna's Smile takes up to 25 people out for a family-friendly activity.

Hayley is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

Hayley's award coincides with World Sickle Cell Day, the annual day to raise awareness of the disease.

In a personal letter to Hayley, Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Through Cianna’s Smile, you are creating an important community for families like yours, providing invaluable advice and support.

"The days out you organise for families affected by the disease are vital in tackling loneliness and providing a wonderful treat for the families who benefit."

Hayley said: "I am extremely honoured to be recognised as one of the many valuable volunteers who dedicate their time to help others.

"When Cianna had her first sickle cell crisis, watching her suffer was heartbreaking.

"I just wanted to help other families who were going through the same thing.

"Sickle cell is a genetic blood disorder that can cause many life threatening complications.

"As a charity we fundraise to enable us to organise family days out for children with Sickle Cell.

"These days out gives them the opportunity to meet others facing the same challenges they themselves might face.

"One of the most rewarding parts of my voluntary work is seeing all the families excited and making new friends.

"Sickle cell is one of the most common genetic conditions in the world and we are proud to be making a difference for those affected by it."