An Unlikely Duo: Sally Phillips and I Take to the Stage

Phillips and Goleniowska is never going to trip off the tongue, and indeed our pairing was less about the giggles and more about the opening of eyes and the changing of hearts and minds, but last week we took to the stage together. 

Sally Phillips and I share our stories with healthcare professionals

In fact the tears in the audience's eyes stemmed from raw emotion rather than belly laughs, although with Sally Phillips being an accomplished comedy actor her honest story and true emotion was balanced perfectly with quick-witted moments of hilarity at the event organised by Daniel Marsden and the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Learning Disability Community of Practice.

Moments of hilarity with actor Sally Phillips at LDCoP16

"Parenting a child with Down's syndrome is more like a sitcom than a tragedy." Sally Phillips

If you'd told me a year ago that I might take to the stage with one of Britain's best loved film stars, I would have laughed you out of town, and surreal it was indeed, right up until we stood side by side. 

But as we shared our journeys of motherhood, the diagnosis of Down's syndrome in our babies, the desire to change the way the world sees the condition and the need to educate maternity teams, the similarities between us became evident. 

We were simply mothers reaching out to the professionals and asking them for help. This was not a performance.

And so we both came away from our less than perfect presentation, that had taken it's own organic twists and turns and been allowed to be what it needed to be, with handfuls of business cards and lists of ideas on paper. 

Each had contacts of policy makers who are listening, or champions with LD wanting to add their voice, or student nurses keen to be part of something amazing. Each wanted to help spread the word, ensure a better experience for new families and support those with a learning disability throughout life. There were hugs and smiles and genuine connections made that day. 

Lessons were learnt too: Dominic Slowie taught me to think of Down's syndrome being identified at birth, not 'diagnosed', for it is not an illness. And Sally found out the hard way that in some people's eyes, she will never be a success until she has appeared in Eastenders :)

Teams of professionals champions and families working better together

And together, as part of team LDPoC16, we were proof that honed, slick perfection, which goes exactly as you plan, isn't always the best way.  When you are open to being flexible, you see life in a new, much more interesting way and learn so much more.

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