A tale of two precious lives
In June 1967 I gave birth to a daughter whom we called Andrea. We were very thrilled as we had two sons aged four and two. Andrea was a beautiful baby – very good – almost too good, and six months later at a routine check-up, it was confirmed that Andrea was a Down’s baby whose development would be delayed and who would have learning difficulties.
Of course we were shocked and saddened to receive this news about our precious baby, but what seemed almost incredible was the fact that nine months earlier our neighbours and good friends, Barbara and Ken had had a daughter, Gillian with Down’s Syndrome. They also had two little boys slightly older than ours and the coincidence seemed quite amazing since neither Barbara nor I was in an at risk group – I was thirty-two and I don’t think Barbara was even thirty. We were fortunate because about that time the care of people with disabilities was emerging from the dark ages and our children began full-time education at the age of three, first at Moreton Special School, and later at Foxfield.
The girls have been friends from infancy, and Barbara and I have always been there to support each other and I am persuaded that this was God’s plan for our families.
The girls are now forty-four and forty-three and do many things. Andrea goes to Riverside Centre where she does some contract work. She helps at a Luncheon club and works one day a week at a café project in Central Park, Wallasey. Andrea can read and write a little, use a computer, and because she is physically well she swims and once a week goes to play boccia with a group of elderly folk in Moreton. Gillian attends Moreton Centre and works three or four mornings a week in the office at Christ Church, she has recently started working at Sainsbury’s one afternoon a week - on the tills no less. She also swims, plays boccia and goes riding once a week.
Gillian and Andrea lead full and happy lives and I thank God every day of my life that the tests to diagnose such conditions before birth were not available in 1967 – how tragic if these precious children had never been born.