To mark World Down Syndrome Day, Wendy Moultrie tells us about her daughter, Grace, and how Brodies has supported her.

I joined the Carers network as I thought it was important to support the amazing initiative by Brodies to promote inclusion and diversity. It unites those of us with common interests, who share a desire to make a difference, raise awareness of the challenges we face, have a voice to drive change and also essentially just be there to support each other and share experiences.

People fall into the carer category for lots of different reasons and most don’t even feel they are carers, however it is important to recognise the role they play, and provide support by ensuring that policies within the firm are fit for purpose and flexible enough to help make a difference.

The Carers network was the one I felt the greatest connection to as my daughter Grace has Down’s Syndrome. Grace is 19 and an absolute joy so carer does not feel like the right title, but she does need extra support to ensure she reaches her full potential.

World Down Syndrome Day – Wendy's story

When Grace was born, I was eager to get involved and learn as much as I could to help with her development so, from very early on, flexibility within the workplace was essential. It meant I could slightly alter my working pattern to enable me to attend appointments, clubs, group activities etc to feel that I was doing as much as I possibly could for Grace while also meeting the needs of the business. Flexibility has continued to be essential to ensure I can always be fully involved, for example, in school meetings, transition planning, the next steps, and ensuring that everyone is working together and fully aware of what is required at every stage of Grace’s childhood.

My caring role never really stops because I am always analysing behaviour, thinking of new strategies, planning ahead, communicating with others, looking for new opportunities and supporting Grace in so many ways, but I absolutely love it and the main thing is feeling you have support if you need it. Connecting with others has been so important and I feel so thankful for the amazing people I have met and shared my journey with.

Grace attends college and also volunteers in a café. She leads a very busy life. She attends many dance classes and dances with two dance companies as well as gymnastics classes, musical theatre, music lessons, and loves getting involved in sports, playing her keyboard, going to musicals, concerts and festivals, going to see her favourite football team, socialising with friends and family, answering quiz questions on one of her favourite TV shows, Friends, and just loving life.

I am immensely proud of Grace and who she is and what she has achieved. I also love what she brings out in others. I have total respect for everything she can do, and I don’t ever see what she can’t do. Actually, in lots of situations I try to learn from Grace and think about what she would do as she doesn’t overthink things like me.

It may take her a little longer to do some things, but it is certainly worth the wait. It is hard to express how amazing it felt when she started to walk, ride her bike, swim lengths, do cartwheels or when she won two gold medals at the Special Olympics for gymnastics, taught a dance class, taught her school a Makaton song, learned the keyboard – and so much more! Grace helps us to really appreciate things that others might take for granted.

However, it is also hard to express how hard it feels that society does not regard Grace as equal and that she will not have the same opportunities as my son Max and other people without a disability. Max will grow up a better person for having Grace in his life. Grace makes the world a better place for us, and society needs to feel the same about people with disabilities. They are both unique individuals with very different talents but deserve to be valued the same.

Because of this, for me, another part of being a carer is the responsibility and drive to do everything I can to ensure Grace leads a full, happy and independent life, hopefully doing a job that she loves. I strive to ensure she is given every opportunity to fulfil her full potential while also raising awareness of how amazing people with Down’s Syndrome are and what they can do given the opportunity.

Fundraising is also really important to me to give back to Down’s Syndrome Scotland for the different ways it helps and supports us, and it has been amazing to have support from Brodies with this. Marking World Down Syndrome Day is just one of the ways the firm has helped to give back.

Brodies has also boost funded our fundraising efforts such as the 21 in 21 challenge where Grace did Makaton signing to 21 pop songs over 21 days and cycled 21 laps of her school track, raising £1200. We were extremely grateful for this and so was the charity. As a carer it is another way that I feel supported by Brodies.

World Down Syndrome Day – Wendy's story

I love that Brodies’ charities committee is called Care as obviously it is essential to fundraise, but there are also other ways to help charities and show that you care. For us, raising awareness of Down’s Syndrome is also essential and we will try to get involved in any way we can.

  • Grace worked on a project with the charity “I am me Scotland” to create a school resource to make primary school age children more aware of people with Down’s Syndrome.
  • Grace is an ambassador for the charity Wouldn't Change a Thing raising awareness through social media of the abilities of people with Down's Syndrome to create a world where negative perceptions of down syndrome are a thing of the past. One stereotype is that some people with Down's Syndrome may share some same common features, however, like typical people who share similar features they look more like their families than each other. Myself and Grace are a perfect example of how we are more the same than different. We are very alike and love a lot of the same things.
  • Grace recently worked with Down's Syndrome Scotland to create a short firm explaining the importance of the Scottish Government's consultation on the proposed Learning Disability, Autism and Neurodivergence Bill (the LDAN Bill).
  • In July, Grace will be attending the World Down Syndrome Congress in Australia with Down's Syndrome Scotland where they will do a presentation.

As a carer I strive to do the best I can but sometimes it still never feels enough. You feel the responsibility of trying to change the world. Raising awareness and changing people’s perceptions and outdated stereotypes is so important. Grace needs people around her that believe in her and will push her because they believe she can do it. Attitude is everything.

Although I require some flexibility to allow me to fully support Grace, I will always ensure I meet the needs of the business and ensure I am also doing everything I can to provide support to my colleagues. I always try to go above and beyond and this is very important to me.

My next focus is on employment and disabled people in the workplace. I would love to see a time when there are more opportunities for inclusion within the workplace to allow us all a chance to get to know more people with disabilities and find out how capable and amazing they are. The pandemic restrictions gave us an insight into what it must be like for people who don’t have routine and purpose in their lives so more employment opportunities are essential. Everyone wants to feel valued.

Our life has been full of so many positive experiences and we have met so many amazing people along the way. Grace loves her life and totally inspires me, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I look forward to the rest of our journey, one day at a time.


Wendy Moultrie

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