Photo Gallery of Hope

I got off to a bit of shaky start...

When Natty was born we experienced the darkest, most  terrifying times of uncertainty.  We had not signed up for this!  We knew next to nothing about Down's Syndrome.  What would she become?  Were our lives to change forever?

I recall thinking that we would never again be able to go for a walk on a beach as a family...holidays and travel would be impossible...her sister would be affected by her limitations....everyone would stare at us everywhere we went and say cruel things...our daughter would not be beautiful...

But a kind, knowing neo-natal nurse, who had a daughter with Down's Syndrome, leant us a small family photo album.  
We pored over page after page of simple snapshots; kids hugging on a sofa watching TV, kids opening presents and blowing out birthday cake candles, kids in the bath, kids playing instruments... and kids making sandcastles on the beach!

A perfect bridesmaid (twice so far in fact).
This was a turning point for all of us.  Those photos gave us more hope than I can describe, at a time when we could find very little that was personal and encouraging online.  We determined there and then to expose Natty to every opportunity and experience that her sister had had and was going to have in the future.  5 years on and we are reaping the rewards as we see them both florish.  

So here are a few photos from that journey so far, a journey that has had its many ups and downs along the way.  We hope, via these images, to spread encouragement and positive thinking for other parents.  It's hard work, it takes love and patience, but the sky really is the limit.

I love exploring smells...

...and texture.

I am a little comedian

I love my sister

I sometimes watch out!

I party hard...zzzz

Sometimes Mummy has to force me to enjoy new experiences.  I'm always glad she does.  I moaned for 20 minutes before I let the dolphin kiss me  :)

I make new friends wherever I go
Photograph by Traci Giles Photography

Pretty aren't I?
Photograph by Traci Giles

I won several rosettes, including this SPECIAL, in the gymkhana, riding Jessie x

Check out my dance moves!

I worked hard at kindergarten

I love doing art at home

The moment I graduated from kindergarten...PRIDE is written all over everyone's faces, tears abound!
I love Daddy too!

I took my first minutes of (mainstream) school very seriously, and got stuck straight in

I loving trying new experiences...I am FEARLESS!

and I am very proud of myself :)

To conclude, yes, our lives have changed forever.  We have learnt to see life through the eyes of one who views and experiences it differently.  We now live life on the 'other side'.  Believe me, it's a lot better.

Oh, and yes...we go to the beach often. 
We travel far and wide, making friends wherever we go.  
Natty is a great ice breaker, and her sister is the wisest most sensitive 7 year old I have ever met.  

And not one single person has ever said anything cruel about her...lingering looks and insensitive questions perhaps, but never anything intentionally cruel.  An ambassador she is... and VERY BEAUTIFUL :)

And special thanks to photographer Traci Giles, more used to taking pictures of Hollywood stars, who took such beautiful shots of Natty on holiday after she stole her heart xxx


  1. Beautiful just like your little girl x

  2. What a trully remarkable insight into the world of an amazing little girl. She has proved that all things are possible, with the backing of a positive and loving family. Thank you for enlightening me and hopefully others into the world of Natty

  3. The photographs bear witness and testimony to the wondrous beauty of Natty and your family. They are more than images of hope to me, they are snapshots of a world that has more magic in it that anyone can ever imagine .I hope that people really look and understand that rather than locking down our worlds, having a child with downs unzips it and lets light flood into dark places xx

  4. Thank you for your heart-felt comments. They have brought tears of joy to our eyes this morning.

  5. Your daughter is beautiful (as is your blog!) I hope you have many more happy times ahead x

  6. awesome - my Charlie also teaches me more than I could ever possibly teach him xx

  7. Natty is an inspiration,as is your blog and the beautiful photos of your gorgeous girls. Keep up the hugely valued work which you've begun with your new blog. You are a true ambassador and lovely lady who is always smiling. Lots of love xx

  8. She stole my heart with her little song and march at the pool! Traci and I loved being a part of your family for a short time! Lots of love to you all! Happy New Year!

  9. 'The Grand Old Duke of York' I think wasn't it? We too have such fond memories of that holiday. It really did feel like a little family didn't it. xxx

  10. Very nice pictures and a beautiful text. You do have writing skills!!!

  11. Thank you!
    I guess the old language teaching experience helps...but when you have something important to say, the words just tumble out x

  12. I LOVE your post.... and, yes, your daughter is BEAUTIFUL. :)

  13. i found your blog through love all blogs and wow! this is a powerful post. a picture does paint a thousand words and you share your colourful life perfectly. your daughter is beautiful and radiant and independent and corageous. she is full of hope and joy and love for life. thank you for sharing natty with us!

  14. Rosa Llopart Queraltó17 January 2012 at 22:07

    Just adorable, Hayley.

  15. You have two beautiful daughters. Natty is a real credit to you, her happiness and enjoyment just explodes out of the photos and I can see she has such a mischeavious side to her. She must really bring such joy to yourselves and everyone she meets. And you can see she has a very proud big sister from the photo. Enjoy your wonderful family, she has such a wonderful and fun filled life ahead enriched with lots of mini adventures.

  16. Hey, what a wonderful page and beautiful pictures- a gift for Natty in years to come and sending out lots of optimism to others. Good job Hayley :0)

  17. Aren't neonatal nurses just the best?

    I am so glad you had a positive image so early on.

    I know when my son was born at 27 weeks gestation I just wanted to know that it "could" all be ok, how I wished I had those images.

    That's the power of blogging, we can give other parents those positive images, to give them a ray of hope.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. I feel so honoured and yet responsible to get it right via my blog. We can only do our best can't we Kylie. x

  18. Hayley Hayley Hayley ... this is quite the most miraculously lovely photo album of a very happy little girl's childhood I've ever seen. I'm still misty eyed following your courageous wonderful reading at BritMum's and so enjoyed getting to know you and look forward to following Natty ... and your adventures together over the years to come.
    Ellie (and Hope) x

    1. Thank you Ellie and Hope. I so enjoyed our little chat (and my snuggle). Not broody at all honest!

  19. Beautiful images of your beautiful daughter

    1. I am a photography beginner, but love is the key ingredient isn't it. Thank you :)

  20. My wonderful Aunt had Down's and was born at a time (1940s) when it was considered 'unthinkable' for parents to say they were going to care for a child with Down's Syndrome. My Grandmother was absolutely steadfast and determined, refusing all doctors advice to give her up and put her in an institution. It occurs to me now that I never appreciated just how strong my Grandmother must have been to know what was possible even though doctors were telling her there was 'no hope.' What a ridiculous idea - my Aunt was the personification of Hope and Joy and Laughter and Sunshine all rolled into one. My Grandmother helped her to read amongst other things and I don't think I've ever seen a smile quite so bright. To know her was to receive a precious gift and it's wonderful to read your blog and hear the same message. I find it hard to understand anyone who thinks otherwise.

    1. Oh Esther what a wonderful message to recieve. Your Grandmother was a pioneer indeed, a brave a courageous woman. How many of us would have done the same back in those days. It is women like her that make me have the courage to push myself into Parliament, or persuade comapanies to have Natty as a model or whatever the current change needs to be.
      Thank you for your story x

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