All posts by Cailey Whitcher

Myles’ at the watermill

The Watermill Theatre in Newbury runs a program (called Fourth Wall) aided by the Greenham Trust to present a play starring adults with learning difficulties. The latest production ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde is the seventh production. Previous plays were: Under Milk Wood, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Frankenstein, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night and Jane Eyre. This was Myles’ fifth play at the Watermill.

The Theatre puts on a play with professional actors, which is then differentiated and reduced from about 2 hours to around 45 minutes for special needs requirements. The play ran from May 23rd to 29thJune with our version being performed on Thursday 27thJune.

Watermill Theatre

The program lasts for eight weeks and is held each Thursday at the theatre. Three sessions to learn the play, three to rehearse, one to see the professional performance and the final one to perform their version to an invited audience.

Eight week plan

Each character in the play has a photo of the Watermill professional actor and a hat associated with it. This helps those involved to identify with their character, and recognise the actors, when they watch the Watermill show.

After the learning sessions characters are assigned:

After the learning sessions characters are assigned.

Myles was assigned the character of Miss Prism. Each actor is given their lines to take home and learn. He loves it and is happy becoming ‘someone else’ and acting out his character for an audience. 

The rehearsing sessions are held in one of the studios.

Their performance was well received by the audience; this is them taking a bow…

The professional cast met with them afterwards…

Myles is looking forward to the next production.

Wiltshire Police smash #Lotsofsocks target

Kim West, Chair of Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group and her daughter Sophie collect a cheque from Wiltshire Police

There was a great atmosphere this week at Wiltshire Police HQ in Devizes as Kim West and her daughter, Sophie, collected a cheque for £4,357.31. The special event was held to thank the twelve companies who supported our Down’s syndrome awareness campaign and bought #Lotsofsocks.

“It was a real honour and a privilege for Sophie and I to attend Wiltshire Police to thank the companies that raised this incredible amount of money through selling #Lotsofsocks back in March this year.”

The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group would like to thank Royal Mail, Trowbridge Sorting Office, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, Salisbury Police, Swindon Police, APD,Avon rubber plc, Devizes School, Wadworth Brewery (Devizes),Aster, Salisbury Fire Station,Fairfield Farm College and Wiltshire Police Devizes HQ themselves.

“Sophie presented each company with a certificate on behalf of the Group to thank them for their hard work and commitment. It was lovely to hear Chief Constable Kier Pritchard talk about how he had set a target for Roy Perrett to sell 1,000 pairs of socks and beat their 2018 total of 909. It’s fair to say Roy and his team smashed that target out of the water through their pure hard work and determination.”  

Roy did not work alone, he was helped by Jeremy, Luke, Edward and Vivien whom have Down’s syndrome but are all employed by Wiltshire Police through the WorkFit Programme.  Jeremy and Luke work at Devizes HQ, Vivien works for Swindon Police and Edward volunteers in the Police Records office in Salisbury.

Kim then spoke a little about WorkFit and was given the opportunity to thank everyone for the amazing amount of money raised, but more importantly, raising awareness of Down’s syndrome.  She said how seeing the community come together was really quite extraordinary and heart-warming.

The afternoon was then drawn to a close but not before Roy Perrett and Chief Constable Kier Pritchard stated next year was going to be even bigger and better so watch this space.

Thank you once again Wiltshire Police for your tremendous support.

JOB opportunity Workfit Employment Liaison Officer Swindon

The Down’s Syndrome Association’s WorkFit programme is looking to recruit an Employment Liaison Officer for Swindon and the surrounding areas. You will be responsible for implementing a one year plan for supporting people with Down’s syndrome to access the work place.

Closing date for applications: Sunday 21st July, 5pm. Interviews will take place on Tuesday 30th July 2019. 

To apply, please send a covering letter and a copy of your CV to Alison Thwaite If you have any questions and you would like an information discussion before applying, please call Alison Thwaite on 07973 612720. 

Download full details here.

Todd gets paid employment at Coles Scaffolding

Potential employers are never too far away. In Todd’s case an old family friend gave in to Todd’s persistence a few months ago. Martyn Coles the owner of Coles Scaffolding Contractors Limited had been nagged by Todd for some work experience. Eventually, as Martyn said “I decided to give him a chance”.

This chance has been so successful that Martyn now wants to make Todd’s position permanent. Todd’s mother Vicky, who has been a long standing member of the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group contacted Jonathan Grew the Swindon Employment Liaison officer for WorkFit so that Todd and Cole’s Scaffolding could become part of the WorkFit programme.

Although Todd is “part of the furniture” Martyn welcomed the opportunity for his team to have WorkFit training to further their support for Todd. In turn Vicky has found it helpful to understand from Jonathan the paperwork that needs to be put in place prior to full employment, as did Martyn.

Todd working at Coles Scaffolding

Gablecross welcome their next workfit candidate

At the end of 2018 the police team at Gablecross welcomed their second Swindon WorkFit placement. Vivian has a twelve month work experience placement at Gablecross Police Station working on the front desk. 

Jonathan, our WorkFit Liaison Officer, worked closely with the team that support Vivian, providing training and guidance ahead of her start. Jonathan’s role is to help employers to unlock the potential of people with Down’s syndrome in the workplace.

Vivian has been assigned an in-work buddy who will work alongside her in her role. Joe Beattie who heads up the in-work buddy system at Gablecross, said “The WorkFit training has been invaluable. It has given us a better understanding in general about Down’s syndrome.”

To find our more about WorkFit please email

Baby & toddler mornings

We’d like to invite families with children aged 7 and under and their siblings along to our baby and toddler mornings at the Churchill Pub in Wootton Bassett. The Churchill has its very own large multi-level soft play suitable for babies, toddlers and young children. It’s a great opportunity to chat to other mums and dads as well as letting your little ones (if they’re big enough) explore the soft play. We’d love to see you there!

Group Open day & agm a huge success

Thank you to everyone who came along to our open day on Saturday. It was fantastic to see so many of you there and spend time chatting with you. We must say a massive thank you to Mandy McAlpine and Marina Billinge-Jones for baking the most amazing cakes for everyone to enjoy. Thank you to Michael Billinge-Jones for starting the cake auction and taking photographs. And finally, thank you to 
@SwindonSENDfamiliesvoice and Swindon Interactive Arts Service (SWIAS) for coming along and meeting our members.

Wiltshire Police take on the Swindon DSActive football team

Article taken from DSA website

Wiltshire Police put their reputation on the line to take on the Swindon DSActive football team in a ‘friendly’ match at Wiltshire Police HQ. It was great to see so many people there on the day offering their support and it was great match practice for the DSActive team.

Wiltshire Police have always been fantastic at supporting the Down’s Syndrome Association, whether it’s getting behind the #LotsOfSocks campaign, employing people with Down’s syndrome through WorkFit and now supporting the local DSActive team. It was great to see so many people there from the police force, many coming in during their days off, and they were pushed very hard by the Swindon team.

The day started with a warm up to get everyone ready to play and meet the players on each team. The teams then played three hard fought matches, the first one was Wiltshire Police vs Swindon DSActive, and then the teams were mixed to make sure everyone got a game. There were goals flying in from every direction, celebrations worthy of someone who had just won the World Cup, and everything was played in a fantastic spirit.

Alex from the DSActive team said:

“It was a really fantastic day and great to be part of. I want to say a huge thank you to Wiltshire Police for hosting the day, a big thank you to WorkFit EDO Jonathan and his family for all their hard work, thank you to Louisa for the photos and Swindon Down’s Syndrome Support Group for their help and support. I’m looking forward to the re-match next year!”

Free Down’s syndrome, ageing and dementia training day

We are hosting a FREE one-day training course on Down’s syndrome, ageing and dementia. The Swindon Down’s syndrome Group in conjunction with the DSA will be hosting this one-day course.

The course will provide those supporting adults with Down’s syndrome to understand the importance of recognising possible signs of the onset of dementia and the need to take a differential diagnosis approach – is it, in fact, dementia or what other possible causes of changes in individuals’ functioning and wellbeing need to be considered?

You will then hear about the ‘philosophy of good care’ and learn practical strategies to ensure that individuals are well supported and their changing care needs are addressed.

For more information email