Interviews with Inspiring Women: Upset to Set-Up - Patricia McPhail

Welcome to the 'Upset to Set-Up' Series: Interviews with Inspiring Women

This occasional interview series shines a spotlight on inspiring women and shares their stories of resilience in the face of upset.  Here we interview women who have overcome significant tragedy, loss or upset and used that experience to set themselves up in a new and different way.  They have turned their upset into a set-up.  Each guest generously shares what they have been through to find the joy in life.

Patricia McPhail

Today we meet Patricia McPhail, Founder of HopeforOllie.  HopeforOllie designs and sells handmade children’s clothing and accessories for 0-10 year olds.

Patricia created HopeforOllie in 2010 after her son Oliver was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) at 10 weeks of age.  DMD is a fatal genetic condition which causes muscles to weaken and break down, leading to progressive difficulty with walking and general mobility.  Currently there is no cure for DMD, and suffers have a 20 to 25 year life expectancy.   Patricia is a mother who wants to make a difference to the lives of all DMD boys and their families by raising funds for clinical research into a cure.

I loved this interview, and I am sure you will too. Patricia is an absolutely inspiring woman.

1. Please share a bit about yourself and your experience of parenthood

My name is Patricia and I’m a mum of two gorgeous kids, Emily aged 10 and Oliver aged 7.

Before motherhood, I was a Data Analysis Manager spending my days looking at statistics and crunching numbers.

Being a parent is a rewarding experience. I became a parent in 2007 when Emily was born 6 weeks early by emergency c-section, with Oliver arriving safely in 2010.

Parenthood can be challenging at the best of times but being a parent of a special needs child is a game changer.  The life I had planned with my family changed as soon as my son was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

My parenthood journey is filled with emotion, daily challenges, strength, dedication and laughter.

These days, I am the Founder of HopeforOllie, a creative handmade children’s clothing company that donates all net proceeds to The Institute of Neuroscience and Muscle Research at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, to fund clinical research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

2. What is your parenting approach or philosophy?

I want to be a good role model for my children and teach them to look at the positives in every situation or challenge they face. To teach my children that life isn’t always fair and that you have to be flexible, to take the good with the “not so great”.  To know that it’s okay to ask for help to solve a problem, and maintain a supportive group of friends.

3. Has your parenting approach changed due to your experiences?

After Oliver’s diagnosis, I became a stronger person, both emotionally and physically.  I didn’t want to stick my head in the sand and hide and simply hope that someone else would do something, so I decided to start HopeforOllie. It was my way of coping, sharing my story and spreading awareness while raising funds.  I was thrown into a world I wasn’t prepared for, a situation I had not envisaged nor expected.  I am now a dedicated advocate for my son, always trying to make sure my son is included in activities rather than excluded.

Parenthood, and particularly parenting a special needs child, has changed me in a positive way.  I have more patience than I ever had, I am more involved in the community, and I am a more generous and kind person overall.

4. What have you learned along the way?

My biggest learning is that life is complex, but it’s so important to stay focused on what is important.   I’m very lucky to have a huge a network of friends and family always willing to help, support and not judge.

5. What is the most important thing you need to do each day to maintain your well-being?

Physical exercise is a must. I thoroughly enjoy working out at the gym to clear my head.  I also make the time to have coffee dates or lunch catch-ups with friends.

6. Complete these sentences:

  • Love is . . . the strength you need to get through the hard times.
  • A life of joy looks like . . .  a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, or at the very least, treatment to ensure the best possible quality of life for my son.
  • My wish for my children is . . . that they grow up to be healthy, happy and positive.

7. If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of advice before you commenced this journey, what would it be?

Life is precious, enjoy each day and don’t take it for granted.  Don’t let the little things bother you.

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More about HopeforOllie:

HopeforOllie has been officially endorsed by The Children's Hospital at Westmead to fundraise, and has donated approximately $80,000 to date.

You can keep up to date with the HopeforOllie journey at -

You can also find HopeforOllie on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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If you have an amazing story of resilience and would like to share it, please get in touch. I'd love to connect and share your story.