Lauren Dempsie was supposed to have two parties for her 30th birthday last year– one in her hometown of Nottingham and one where she lives now in Surrey.

Sadly both events had to be cancelled due to ongoing Coronavirus restrictions.

In a bid to cheer her up, Lauren’s support worker Emma arranged for as many of Lauren’s family and friends as she could to record birthday messages for Lauren.

She then put them together in one long video:

Lauren absolutely loved the video: “I still watch it at times!”

Emma said: “Lauren’s so popular and I think that video was amazing.”

Support workers Emma and Debbie dressed up as ‘Lauren’s Angels’. They also bought her personal birthday gifts including an angel hairband and took her out for a birthday lunch.

On her actual birthday, Lauren opened gifts sent by friends and family. And her mum, dad and brother took her out for dinner.

Her mum also managed to get her a very special birthday cake – a yellow Mini – using her connections from the neighbourhood WhatsApp group.

Yummy: Lauren’s yellow Mini birthday cake

Facing her fears

The first lockdown was particularly hard for Lauren:

The masks and PPE remind me of operations so I was quite upset.

At first I thought it was to do with me being dangerous, but when people talked it through with me, I realised that wasn’t what it was about.

Lauren’s family and her support workers tried to help her with her fears, by decorating their PPE in her favourite colours and making it more fun.

Emma said:

Lauren loves bright summery colours so we decorated them with stickers, spots and stripes in all different colours.

Lauren said:

Yellow is my favourite colour. I like the way staff made PPE more fun for me like putting yellow Mini stickers on the visors and decorating the masks.

The masks took me longer to get my head around so the staff didn’t wear them until later.

In an attempt to try and make her laugh, Lauren’s dad put aprons on himself and even on her teddy bears:

“One day he put an apron on to plait my hair. Looking back on it, that was hilarious!”

Lauren’s brother Joe also helped her a lot and by the middle of that same week, she felt much better about the situation.

Fun: Lauren (left) and Emma (right) wearing the face masks they decorated

Lauren has since overcome her fear of face masks and has been wearing them herself:

“I took a while to calm down but I thought I had no choice so I just accepted it.”

Getting out and about again

Lauren lives in her own house in Epsom, Surrey and has support from United Response. She likes doing arts and crafts activities, baking, gardening and playing boccia.

She has enjoyed being able to go out more since restrictions in England have eased. She has visited the Isle of Wight and is also planning to go to Edinburgh soon to visit her dad’s family.

I’ve had both my jabs now. My mum and dad spend time with me but they go home every other week for a few days.

I saw some of my friends in my garden and that was good. I can’t believe how long it’s been.

And Lauren would love to throw a belated 30th birthday celebration in the future:

“I haven’t really planned anything but I would like to have a big party once all the restrictions are lifted.”