When everyone was saying “No he can’t”, Samuel’s Mum refused to listen. Blog by Lynne Haslam.
“Samuel was born in 1988 with Down’s Syndrome. Back then the issue of disability discrimination was virtually unheard of, so we thought the only way that Samuel was going to have a reasonable quality of life was if we found a way to make him as normal’ as possible. We felt that the best way to do this was to take every opportunity to provide him with good peer experiences; having a sister and a brother within three years was part of the plan.
Throughout his life we have constantly faced the CAN’T’ culture, but through determination Sam has consistently proved he CAN. He went to mainstream schools because we were lucky to find schools who valued children more than statistics. GCSEs were going to be an issue but as over 30% of children don’t achieve A-C grades, Samuel was just one of that 30%! After school he went to Foxes Academy in Minehead where he achieved an NVQ in food preparation. Fundamentally he did what his peers did primary school and SATS, secondary school and GCSEs, and then 3 years at college.
He does not have a clear idea about time or money, as he will tell you himself, but there are ways round everything as we have learned mobile phone alarms and apps are a wonderful thing. We were told he would never learn to swim yet he travelled the world as a GB swimmer visiting Portugal, Eire, South Africa and Taiwan and bringing back medals every time. He achieved European records in freestyle and butterfly. Although he could not compete at London 2012, as people with Down Syndrome do not have a classification, it didn’t stop him applying and succeeding in becoming a Gamesmaker at the athletics stadium.
We were told that he wouldn’t achieve Silver Duke of Edinburgh yet he went on to receive Gold at St James’s Palace in the presence of the Duke. We were told that he would never speak, yet he speaks well enough to successfully carry out his job in the dining room at Eton College.
Today Samuel, having moved into his own flat, is very happy and he loves his job at Eton College. He has been travelling independently to Caversham on Fridays and, after extensive training he has managed the return journey unaccompanied for the first time (no mean feat as anyone using Reading Station will know). He cooks very well (with support re timings), does his washing, and cares for himself from day to day.
Samuel has recently achieved his life’s goal a fiancÃ©e who means the world to him and makes his life complete. We are full of admiration for him.”