On Meeting the Driving Force Behind Down's Syndrome Charity

Damon Hill at Sandy Park

Excited at having a rare evening out together, and at the prospect of meeting a man we had been inspired by for many years, Bob and I preened and scrubbed up on Friday evening before kissing the girls goodnight as they settled down for an evening of jolly japes and a few too many sweets with one of my oldest friends.

Scrubbed up and ready for a Down's syndrome charity evening

We were heading to Exeter's Sandy Park for a glittering charity auction evening organised by the Down's Syndrome Association and Down Syndrome International whose work supporting families in this country and across the globe is legendary. 

The host for the evening was the internationally renowned F1 racer and Sports Personality of the Year Damon Hill OBE and our dining partners were the generous Porsche Exeter and Michael Spiers Jewellers who had both donated fabulous prizes for the occasion.

We arrived to the dulcet voices of dapper Exeter University a capella group Semi Toned who were nothing short of brilliant. Our eyes swept the room for any sign of the handsome fellow we so wanted to meet.

The wine and the conversation flowed and the time came to hear Damon's inspiring talk about his family history, his father Graham, his sporting achievements and the motivations that had pushed his career forward. Of the course the part I most wanted to hear about was how his son Oliver, who has Down's syndrome had shaped his life. The extra dimension he had brought to their lives. 

Chatting to F1 driver Damon Hill and presenting him with a copy of I Love You Natty

Between courses I had a chance to meet Damon and present him with a signed copy of our little book I Love You Natty. From one family to another it was a connection, for we all share similar experiences on this journey, regardless of fame or fortune. He was a true gentleman and very kind.

But it was only when the evening neared it's close, as we were chatting to Carol Boys (DSA) Andrew Boys (DSi) congratulating them on the astonishing amount of well over £20,000 raised during the evening, that we met the real driving force behind work they do. 

A sharp-suited, suave, impeccably mannered young man in his 30's I'd guess, who took the time to show me to the ladies' powder room. A man with shoes to covet. Softly spoken, with soulful eyes and big dreams. 

The man we chatted about all the way home, was Alex Boys, son of Carol and her husband. Alex has Down's syndrome and without him, the Down's Syndrome Association may not exist in the form it does today for it was after his birth that his parents began it.

So to the driving force behind the DSA, we thank you for a fabulous evening. Thank you Alex and so sorry that we didn't get a photo with you... 

...next time perhaps. 

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