In 1866 Dr John Down described Down Syndrome as a disorder but it was not until 1959 that Dr Jerome Lejeune discovered the cause of the condition. He found that instead of having 46 chromosomes in each cell, those with Down Syndrome have 47. This means that a baby may be born with an extra copy of chromosome 21- this is trisomy 21 or Down syndrome.

Tuesday 21st March 2017 is  World Down Syndrome Awareness day and our school will be awash with silly socks. There will be spotty socks, coloured socks, patterned socks, long and short socks, odd socks, any socks you can think of. The reason is that 12 months ago we lost one of our little treasures. Suzi (name change) was just 10 years old and one of the brightest and bubbliest little girls you could ever meet. For private reasons Suzi was just being adopted by a truly wonderful family who loved the very bones of her. She was incredibly close to her new dad and her favourite place was sitting on his knee listening to nursery rhymes and stories. She loved playing with her adoptive younger sister and the two were thick as thieves at home. Suzi had been non communicating and unable to walk when she joined us and her new family. Over the course of 14 months she mastered walking and was beginning to talk a little. In school she was a mischievous madam. Always pushing her baby around school in a buggy with an ever patient TA in hot pursuit. You had to be extremely quick when Suzi was around too. Her new mum had sat with both girls and made Easter bonnets for our competition. Suzi’s was sent in with her on school transport. One second it was there in all its beautiful glory and the next it was in shreds. School staff could only laugh as the bonnet was reduced to a pile of straw.

Suzi began to be a little unwell. There seemed to be nothing major. Nothing you could quite put your finger on but she began to go down. We thought maybe she had a cold brewing or similar. Suzi was off school for a short time and then one day we had a phone call to say that she had passed away. Our whole school went into shock! It is always devastating to lose a child, of course it is but far worse when there’s no warning.

I don’t want to dwell on Suzi’s death, I want to celebrate her life. Suzi was life itself. She had the extra chromosome but that meant nothing to her. What she had in bucketfuls was extra smiles, extra giggles, and extra fun. So tomorrow, March 21st our school will be full of silly socks and our social media will be carrying the message #LOTSOFSOCKS

I hope you’ll join us tomorrow and wear silly socks in memory of Suzi and to raise awareness for all those living with Down Syndrome today.