A look back – 2013 for HDSSG


What a year we have had –  we are thrilled to have welcomed new members to HDSSG – Gabriel, Sophie, Katy and Rueben. SO many exciting things have happened to our group and our members over the last 12 months, here’s a little recap  –


We kicked off 2013 with a trip to Xscape in Castleford in January. A brilliant day out was had for the families that joined us, with sledging and ice slide shennanigans galore. It was hard to tell who had the most fun, the kids or the adults!



Harry WishIn mid January we got the results of the 2012 Huddersfield Examiner Wish Campaign. We were astounded at the support and bagged a top ten position out of hundreds of local charities. We also raised £400 which we used to launch our ‘Tiny Talkers’ group.

We are proud to announce we have already topped last years token collection figures. The official results will not be in until 2014 so stay tuned!!

These fabulous funds are maintaining our speech & language programme we have renamed ‘Chatterbox’.



IMG_8913In early 2013 Jack Davies travelled to London to take part in a photo shoot that supported an article written for The Sun newspaper about models with Down Syndrome. Jack (pictured far right) was invited to join stars such as Seb White (Marks & Spencer model) and Harvey (Next model) to name a couple! The shoot took place at the Down’s Syndrome Association’s site in Teddington – The Langdon Down Museum.


breaking freeThat same weekend across town, Ruben Reuter was at the MarkThreeMedia offices at the premier of the CBBC ‘My Life’ episode ‘Breaking Free’. Ruben was one of 3 young people with Down Syndrome who were filmed in 2012 for the documentary. It aired on CBBC on the 19th February and proved so popular CBBC aired it again on World Down Syndrome day! Breaking Free later went on to be nominated for a children’s BAFTA award.



Jack Eureka model2013 saw Eureka The National Children’s Museum open their new exhibition ‘All About Me’ See if you can spot HDSSG’s Jack in the new area, from his image on the walls & windows to his silhouette on the actual interactive exhibitions and even his funky moves on the video wall!

Eureka have championed inclusion and diversity by inviting children and families from all different cultures, backgrounds and abilities to be featured  in their new gallery. Brilliant.



BodenWhen Boden invited our families to an open casting at their HQ in London Ben, Tess, Nina, Poppy and Oscar went along to strut their stuff! The shoot took place on the weekend leading up to World Down Syndrome Day – 21.03  is a day  that typically showcases the abilities and accomplishments of person with Down syndrome and encourages independence, self-advocacy and freedom for persons with Down syndrome to make their own choices. Quite fitting!



DSCF4019Talking of World Down Syndrome Day – The theme of 2013 was odd socks! To show support of the day people were invited to get out their odd socks and wear them with pride. Huddersfield did us proud with many of our local schools taking part including Wilberlee in Slaithwaite where HDSSG’s Martha is pictured (left) with her teachers!

Our friends over at Shabang also made a fab video montage to celebrate you can see it by clicking here!




Artful playgroundIn April HDSSG invited Artful Playground to visit. Artful Playground is an educational theatre company that uses a range of dramatic arts disciplines as tools to enhance subject learning, build confidence and develop better social interaction between young people. Our families LOVED the interactive story ‘Just Us Three And The Sea’.



drumming workshop


We were delighted that talented Claudio Kron Do Brazil brought his drumming workshop to our members in May. A great time was had by all that attended.







IMAG3502Through April and May we held several ‘Smarty Pants’ sessions which had grown from our previous ‘Tiny Talkers’ group. Parent Bernie Egan led the sessions which featured speech and language intervention, numicon and literacy activities. They were a real success and very beneficial to the members that we able to attend.

We are sad to say that Bernie and her family moved to pastures new this year and are greatly missed!





June saw the start of building works on Huddersfield’s ring road for a new leisure centre. HDSSG’s Jack can still be seen on the hoardings surrounding the site!







harry emmerdale

2013 saw some big scenes for HDSSG’s  Harry who plays Leo Goskirk in ITV’s Emmerdale.

Leo and mum Rhona has some dramatic times in the soap over the summer!





Team & coachesThe biggest storyline of all this summer for HDSSG was that of our swimmers who travelled to Bath to take part in the Special Olympics Summer Games. What a games they were! Our BOK swimmers represented Yorkshire & Humberside and didn’t disappoint. Jack Drennan, Aisling Connelly, Zoe Rank, Ruben Reuter, Joanne Kempley, Rebekah Hill and Ben Sweeney competed over 3 days at Hengrove Park Leisure Centre in Bristol. Along with coaches Gemma Hill-Wood and Ed Lim who were a fantastic support. Find out how they did here!




In the autumn we launched our new speech & language programme ‘Chatterbox’ along with  qualified therapist Louise Usher. Chatterbox is open to our members aged between 3 and 13 and takes place once a month. So far it has been a huge success with 14 families taking part, the children/young people get valuable private SLT whilst having fun in familiar surroundings.






In October we invited our over 10’s to an MTV style party at PopKidz. It was an excellent night with party games, music and mocktails at the bar! Our older members had a blast and the staff at the venue were great. I think another visit will be on the 2014 calendar!










Our annual Christmas Party was a smashing afternoon, it’s wonderful to see so many of our families attend. This year the entertainment was provided by Ruben’s Retro Disco – Ruben is available for birthday’s, christening’s, bar mitzvah’s….





So there was our 2013 in a nutshell. We didn’t mention the yoga, soft play, hydrotherapy swimming, celebrating WDSD with Wakefield & District Down Syndrome Support Group, Ruben reporting for CBBC’s Newsround, HDSSG going to a SENCO network, a panto trip for 90 people or the amazing opportunities Shabang provided our members… phew!

We didn’t mention the things to look out for in 2014 either – 2 of our members – Mia & Joshua will be appearing on ‘Something Special’ with the fabulous Mr Tumble (more on that later!), Chatterbox will resume in January and there will be more fantastic events from Huddersfield Down Syndrome Support Group such as a trip to Nell Bank in the spring (more TBC!)

All that is left to do is to thank you all for your support over the last 12 months and to give a HUGE thank you to all our fundraisers over the last 12 months – We couldn’t be the group we are without you or offer all the activities and opportunities without your help –  THANK YOU:

  • Darren Bagley & The West Yorkshire Fire Service Sailing Team
  • Suzanne Broster & friends
  • Rose & Crown at Cop Hill
  • Jenny Parkes
  • Amelia & Fraser Griffiths
  • Edgerton Lawn Tennis & Squash Club
  • Brosters Farm Shop
  • Family of the late Olga Zanconato
  • All that have donated through our Virgin Money Giving Button
  • Nicola Scott, Renata Firth, Susan Lodge, Cobwood Engravers, Simply Solids & Irene Hirst

Everyone that has bought HDSSG merchandise is also included as a small percentage goes directly back to our group. I am terribly sorry if I have missed anyone from the list, you are ALL absolutely marvellous.

Here’s to another great year at Huddersfield Down Syndrome Support Group – see you in 2014 for more fun!






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