Support group returns to Sheffield 20 years after its launch

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A charity set up in Sheffield to support families with donor conceived children is to return to the city to celebrate the launch of a book about the subject.

The Donor Conception Network was formed 20 years ago to provide support for parents who used donor eggs or sperm to conceive their children.

Author Beverley Ward, from Hunter’s Bar, has written a book about the subject - Archie Nolan: Family Detective - which is described as an engaging illustrated novel to help donor conceived children understand the process.

“It can be quite a complicated subject,” said Beverley.

“Because donor conceived young people have different thoughts and feelings about being donor conceived, about their donors, about having half siblings, about being ‘different’ to other kids in their family or friends, I wanted to create a story that gave a voice to a range of experiences but ultimately a book that kids would be proud of.”

Beverley, who teaches creative writing, added: ‘I’ve tried to make it fun as well as substantial.

“Younger children tend to simply accept the bare bones of the story - that their parent or parents needed help from a donor to conceive them. But as they grow up they start to have questions about what it all means and this book explores that.

The charity was formed in 1993 as a network of five sets of parents by leading infertility expert Dr Sheila Cooke, who was then based at the Jessop Hospital.

Her pioneering work in the 1980s and 90s broke both scientific and ethical barriers in the field of artificial insemination.

The parents she put together set up the Donor Conception Network, which is now based in London and has 2,000 member families across the UK.

The book will be launched at Waterstones, Orchard Square, at 5.30pm on Wednesday, November 18.