Win a Festive Frugi Family Hamper with Natty the Pyjama Poster Girl

As you know Natty has been modelling for fabulous organic clothing company Frugi for a while now and we’ve teamed up with them to offer you a chance to win this fab Frugi Christmas Hamper. 

All you have to do is click here and enter your details to be put into the draw- it’s easy! 
The competition is open from today until Thursdays 15th Dec 2016 at midnight. The winner will be drawn on Friday 16th Dec and contacted by Frugi via email, they will then pop the hamper in the post in time for Christmas. 

Natty, the Frugi Pyjama Poster Girl

What's more, the Frugi elves are offering to wrap your last minute Christmas purchases in a gorgeous gift bag for only £3.50. 

Frugi gift bags 

It will delight the recipients as much as it excited Natty when she opened hers live in our nightly Facebook broadcast Chatty Natty, which you can watch here

Better still, our pyjama poster girl found a peachy soft pair of festive polar bear Poppy pyjamas inside (RRP £25) which happened to make the perfect 10th birthday gift as well. *Sings happy birthday Natty*

Frugi Poppy Pyjamas make the perfect Christmas present 

What a treat! Thank you #FrugiFamily. 

You can now pop across to Global Mouse Travels to see which gift she received.

UK Blog Award Nominations: Can You Vote for Downs Side Up?

The UK Blog Awards is an industry level event that recognises companies and individuals for the far-reaching and excellent online content they produce. 

Cast your vote here 

Last year I was not only astonished to be nominated, but astounded to be a finalist alongside many others who are creating real change within the healthcare sector.

As the year hurtled on (here's what we've been up to this Autumn) I received a few emails to say that I had been nominated again this year. I'm not one to chase awards, if your blog changes one person's life it is a success after all, but to know that someone somewhere had thought me worthy of such a nomination and had taken the time to email in means such a great deal to me.

So the voting is now open to the public

Downs Side Up is sitting in the Healthcare section again, I guess because we work with medical professionals training them in sensitive use of language, delivering talks at conferences, helping with dissertations via email, urging more education around ante-natal screening, showcasing the work of LD nurses and teaching the world about Down's syndrome, helping smash the myths that continue as well as supporting new parents. 

Natty delivers a talk to medical professionals at a conference 

If you would like to cast a vote our way (it's all down to numbers in this round) you can do so on the link below, and you can hunt around for your other favourite blogs to vote for too. 

Most of all this is a way to bring more focus onto the issues faced by those with a learning disability, and to create new links with others in the same field. 

Thank you all for your support. 

Our Busiest Month Ever: Downs Side Up in Brief

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and Downs Side Up has run from one thing to another with very little time or energy to enable the fingers to touch this keyboard. 

So, in the interests of keeping everyone in the loop (just in case you're interested) here's what we've been up to throughout September and October, from TV to awards to books and beyond. 

Oh, and there's a competition to win a copy of Going to School book at the bottom of this page! Enter now.


Natty has featured on the Frugi website as one of their models and part of the #FrugiFamily who road test their clothes! Read all about their inclusive message here

Natty models for Frugi

Natty also had a casting for a Coop TV advertisement, but was rather reluctant to eat the tomatoes that the remit stipulated! She didn't get the gig, but wonderfully another little boy who has Down's syndrome did and you can see the Autumn commercial here. (Although I don't think he liked tomatoes either...)


I am super excited to have been involved in a British Medical Journal first! LD nurse and Downs Heart Group champion Helen Laverty and I worked with Expert by Experience Emily, who has Down's syndrome, to produce the first What Your Patient is Thinking article from the perspective of someone who has Down's syndrome. 

We featured in Patient Magazine: Having Natalia has Made Me a Better Person.

Then blog post Not All Like Her You Know went a teensy bit viral and featured on the front page of the Huffington Post and was the Mumsnet Blog of the Day. It's about the value of all people, whatever their abilities.

Big sister Mia was interviewed by the Virgin Carers Club. You can read Sibling Carers Stories here and hear more about her book for other children I Love You Natty.

Sisters just being sisters on the Virgin Carers Club this week 

A new book The million Dollar Blog was launched by Natasha Courtenay Smith this month and I am so honoured that Downs Side Up features as a world-changing blog (as opposed to one that earns any money). 

Downs Side Up features in The million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith

Interviews and Appearances

Ahead of the BBC Two Documentary A World Without Down's airing, I flew to Manchester with 2 hours' notice to appear on the BBC Breakfast sofa with Dan and Louise. Apparently the adrenaline produced by a live TV appearance is akin to that produced in a car crash. I can confirm that it was indeed a physically terrifying experience. You can watch the interview here.

We've also done an interview with a woman's magazine that comes out weekly (under wraps for now). The feature should appear around Christmas time.

Natty and I also took part in a new series for Radio Two as part of the Listening Project. We talked about beauty and I got pushed out of the studio while she hogged the microphone...

Natty was interviewed for Radio Two's Listening Project

But the most surreal moment of the week was driving along and switching on the radio to hear my voice coming out of Radio Two's Jeremy Vine show as they discussed the documentary. Very odd indeed.


I attended a fabulous National Diversity Awards ceremony in Liverpool Cathedral along fellow finalist with Sally Phillips, and other champions Clare Minnet, actor Tommy Jessop, Victoria Woodham and Emma Lambert from Future of Down's, film maker Clare Richards and others. 

Downs Side up was up for Female Role Model and Sally was up for Celeb of the Year. Huge honours.

With Actors Sally phillips and Tommy Jessop at the National Diversity Awards

Positive Role Model 

What an incredible and inspiring evening indeed! And a huge thank you to the lovely people at Great Western Railway for donating part of my train journey to get there.  

Downs Side Up was also shortlisted for Campaign blog of the year in the Mumsnet Blog Awards for the second year running and we're honoured to have been nominated for a UK Blog Award in the Healthcare Section as well. Thank you for thinking of us.

Facebook Live

Chatty Natty reaches increasingly large audiences every day. Join us week nights at 7pm over on Facebook for fun, tips and giggles. I've you haven't caught us live yet, you really must!

Chatty Natty week nights at 7pm of over on Facebook

The Documentary

A World Without Down's Syndrome? 

The documentary finally aired. It created shifts and changes and conversations the like of which I have never seen before. I am still feeling overwhelmed and emotionally drained, but will write more about the impact of the film we played a small part in along with the incredible Sally Phillips who wrote and fronted it. You can watch on iPlayer here. Possibly with cake.

Everyone involved has been inundated with messages of support, of re-thinking and of wanting to work together. Because together we are gently changing perceptions of Down's syndrome. However, we've spent much of the month feeling like this:

The roller coaster of A World Without Down's?

We interviewed film maker Clare who was the woman behind the camera and edit here. 

Clare Richards worked on A World Without Down's?

Other News

Going to School book was launched by our local support group here in Cornwall and was put into every reception child's book start bag! Exciting and inspiring news.

To win a copy of Going to School enter our Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post. 

I also became a mobility products company Firefly columnist and affiliate blogger. So proud to be a part of their team. Pop over each month to read our musings on special needs parenting.

I also hope to see you at Mumsnet Blogfest next month for a SEN bloggers round-table that I'm hosting. See the other speakers at this prestigious writing event here. 

Mencap celebrate their 70th anniversary. As a Mumbassador for the charity I was invited to a celebration in the House of Commons, but sadly I am feeling just a little too jaded around the edges to attend... I wonder why.

Watch out for Mencap's latest Here I Am campaign too, kicking off with this powerful ad featuring DJ Casey Rochell

"A Down's is not a person."

And lastly (I think), we are excited to announce that the same charity are selling our book I Love You Natty in their Christmas catalogue this year.

Well done to Hannah Kemp for winning a copy of Going to School by the Cornwall Down's Syndrome Support group, worth £3.99. 

Support Marcus, Author of Black Day Book: The Monster Rock Band

One of our girls' favourite books of the year is Black Day: The monster Rock Band created by our dear friends Mardra and Marcus Sikora of Grown Ups and Downs.

Natty reviews Black Day Book by Marcus and Mardra Sikora

A Makaton Nativity Play that Includes all Children

Mum of Jacob and Primary School teacher Rebecca Thompson created this wonderful new Christmas resource a couple of years ago that would benefit all early years settings or SEN classrooms. It comes complete with Makaton symbols. 

This Season she launches a sequel, Gold Star Inn.

New Makaton nativity play

When my son, Jacob was about 14 months old our speech and language therapist recommended we started to use Makaton to help him to communicate.  Desperate to do anything that would help his development my husband and I enrolled on a two-day training course and our signing journey began.

The Precious Power of A Song: Depeche Mode

This weekend my little brother (aka Uncle Carl) secured two tickets for us to go and see the inimitable 80s band Depeche Mode during their Global Spirit Tour. 

This was a band we shared a love of as youngsters, a band we listened to throughout the teenage angst, a band we grew up to.

Depeche Mode music takes me back to when Natty was born

We Interview the Woman Behind the Camera: A World Without Down's?

 This very evening the 5th October at 9pm on BBC Two a ground-breaking new documentary co-written and presented by actor Sally Phillips airs. It's called A World Without Down's? and talented film-maker Clare Richards was the woman behind much of the filming and editing. Downs Side Up asked her a few questions.

Clare Richards was the woman behind the camera filming A World Without Downs?

The powerful piece looks at Down's syndrome screening programmes and asks some important ethical questions about our views on disability as a society. I was enormously proud to have been filmed whilst training medical professionals for the programme along with our daughter Natty. 

Key scientists and ethicists, as well as champions with Down's syndrome and their families, also feature in a work that will start important conversations everywhere. Never before has a programme asked the opinions of those with Down's syndrome on such an important topic either.

The country is in a media frenzy with Sally Phillips at the helm. Media interviews are like beacons of light flashing across the country as our community rallies. Here's my pennyworth on BBC Breakfast yesterday

But with all the focus on the protagonists in the film, rarely does anyone ask the film creator about their role in bringing such an important topic to our screens.

So I threw a few questions at Clare, and asked her what she's working on next and here's what she told us.


How were you selected to work on A World Without Down’s? What drew you to the subject?

I’m always interested in subjects where minority or alternative voices get a platform to express themselves more fully, so when I heard about this project I was naturally drawn to it.

You work alone at times. Tell us about the different roles you perform in creating a film such as this.

There’s always a big team in the background keeping a production moving forward in all directions, but with this project there was an awful lot to read and lots and lots of people to meet before we did anything – it’s complex, in fact I was continuingly researching the whole way through the process. 

I was also self-shooting the documentary, keeping in touch with the many contributors, as well as working to a schedule that had to co-ordinate with Sally’s very busy timetable and making sure that a mutli-layered subject was fairly discussed in a way that was going to be accessible to a broad audience.
Clare tells us about the making of BBC Two's A World Without Down's?

Tell us about an average day for a documentary maker.

There really is no average day – I could be anywhere, talking to anyone about anything. But it will usually involve lots of research to ensure you fully understand your subject matter, I needed to ensure that I could communicate the subject to the general public. So lots of reading, phone calls, meetings with experts and people involved in the subject matter and also to those who hold the subject close to their hearts.

The film features some very personal moments and a range of raw emotions from various people. How do you feel witnessing these? How do you ensure authentic emotions are expressed. Do you ever put the camera down and give your subjects a hug?

It’s always a real privilege to be a witness to sensitive situations where emotion is raw. I hope that I develop good relationships with people before we film anything emotional so that people can feel comfortable, or comfortable enough to be genuine when we do film. It’s often easy to spot when emotion isn’t real and if it is disingenuous it won’t tend to be used in the final programme. From years of experience I will sense when I’ve filmed enough so that I can give people space that they need or give them a hug.

Was it a straightforward process? How many hours of film, countries visited, nights away from home, extra takes etc 

It wasn’t straightforward at all! We filmed about 18 days with Sally in America, Iceland and the UK, which isn’t a lot of time, but the work that went into each day’s filming was quite considerable. Carl, the producer was constantly juggling information, schedules and relationships with a huge variety of people with lots of different opinions.

How did you begin to decide what made it into the final edit.

You look at everything and then start whittling it down, being mindful of the fact that you have to weave a narrative that takes people on a journey that is surprising, informative and entertaining, if possible!

What was your personal experience of Down’s syndrome when you were growing up? 

I didn’t have a huge amount, I didn’t go to school with anyone with Down’s and I didn’t know anyone outside school with Down’s either. However, my Dad worked for a charity that raises money for people with learning disabilities for 10 years. He organised the funding of a mini-bus for the local Down’s group in Somerset called Ups and Downs Southwest, which is run by Wendy O Carroll and he was always really struck by her son Oliver, who is a very successful photographer. The first film I made was called Disabled and Looking for Love, about dating and love for disabled people so I guess I’ve always been empathetic.

(Read the Downs Side up interview Focus on Oliver Hellowell here.) 

What did you learn from making the film, both professionally and about DS?

I learnt a great deal more about Down’s syndrome than I knew before, it really does feel like an outdated view of what Down’s syndrome prevails. I learnt a great deal more about bioethics and the science of genetics and that was fascinating too.

Are there any moments in the film that really stand out for you and what are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the sequence with Sally and Ollie on the Southbank because it feels very intimate. It was also important for the film that the viewers are able to witness Sally being a mother and I feel through this scene you truly see this and it’s really beautiful.

I’m proud of the fact that a lady that has terminated pregnancy felt able to contribute to the programme. It was an incredibly brave thing to do and I hope it helps other women like her feel able to talk about to their experiences so they’re less stigmatised.

I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to tackle a difficult, complex and emotional subject in a way that hopefully draws people in and makes them think and discuss.

Tell us about your other/future projects. 

I’ve just started on a project for BBC 2’s This World international current affairs documentary strand which will be following a British doctor with albinism as he investigates the persecution that Albinos experience in East Africa.

See more of Clare's work on her website.