WHEN Martin O’Neill’s son was born 14 weeks prematurely and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the new dad pledged he would do everything in his power to give him the best chance in life.

Back in 1993, the only option for specialist care for children with the illness was a trip to London to meet experts at the Bobath charity.

That meant youngsters like Dominic, who can’t speak or walk, struggled to get the care they desperately needed.

But thanks to Martin, his wife Claire and a small group of other determined parents, the charity soon opened a base in Scotland, which has now been there for families for a quarter of a century.

Two decades spent supporting Bobath followed for Martin, who also volunteers as a leader with the Disabled Scouts.

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And now the East Renfrewshire man has been rewarded after being named as a recipient of the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his contribution to helping people with cerebral palsy and for his charitable work.

“Without Dominic, I wouldn’t have been inspired to do any of it,” 60-year-old Martin told the Barrhead News. “I have just been so humbled by the reaction from everyone.

“I became involved in 1994 with a group of parents who agreed with Bobath that, if they could show enough willpower and raise the funds, then the charity would open an office in Glasgow.

“The office opened in 1995 and has gone from strength to strength ever since.”

Martin had served as a trustee on the board of Bobath Scotland since 1999, only stepping down in May when he was replaced by Dr Kirsty Colquhoun.

He was tireless in his support of the charity, volunteering to run events and speaking to schools, clubs and community groups to raise awareness of cerebral palsy and the difference therapy can make to quality of life.

Martin, from Newton Mearns, said: “Until he was five, Dominic couldn’t communicate but we were at the centre one day when a doctor noticed he was blinking whenever he wanted to say yes and scowling whenever he wanted to say no.

“It was life changing.”

Martin, who has another son named Michael, is quick to thank his family for their support over the years.

“I never expected to get the MBE and wasn’t doing any of this for the recognition,” he said. “The fact is I couldn’t have done any of it without Claire, who always takes up the slack for me when I am doing stuff.

“She never complains and knows why I am not there.”

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