Tom’s 8th birthday: how we’ve come a long way…


Tom playing on the beach The approach of a birthday is always such an exciting time, especially when you are going to be eight!  So, with party invites to do and Ben 10 characters to track down, it's a busy time, yet I cannot help but go back to Tom's birth and marvel at where we are now…
For those of you who have shown such kind interest in Tom, his health and progress I hope you will enjoy hearing about him and for those who have heard me mention (oh ok, more than mention!) my three lovely children, may I share the beginning with you…

I often wonder if life were a book and we had been able to peep ahead into the pages to see our life now, would we have cried less and worried less? I suspect not as grief has such a part to play and is a process all its own.

Tom's birth
Claire with Tom after the birth 4th May 2001 was a gorgeous sunny hot day, in fact "a perfect day to have a baby" I remember my consultant happily commenting as I was prepared for my Caesarean. Dan and I were just so delighted to be meeting our first baby.
I had finished work at QVC the previous week so was all ready to relax and nest for two weeks. However, we sold our house, bought another and lo and behold Tom was too busy somersaulting to be born naturally, so an earlier date was planned for his arrival, resulting in, not a lot of relax time after all!

Nothing could have prepared me for the complete and utter shock that followed – Tom was born with Down's Syndrome.
"How could that be? What did I do wrong? I'll never work again; I'll never smile or laugh again. We'll have to sell the new house." Yet within the barrage of thoughts that flew around my mind, the overwhelming one was of total love for my beautiful, beautiful boy, my tiny little baby.
Call it motherly instinct but I just knew the second I saw Tom's little face that there was something wrong, something different. He just wasn't the baby I had expected to see, if you can understand.

All the professionals told me he was fine, but I just knew. Eventually we were seen by the paediatrician and she agreed that Tom did indeed show characteristics of Down's Syndrome. At this point he was a vivid shade of purple and struggling to breathe.

A photograph (above left) was taken and he was raced away to Great Ormond Street by ambulance to find out if he had complex heart problems, which sadly accompany many babies born with Down's Syndrome.

I was told after he was safely returned to me that the photograph was in case he didn't make it! Call it ignorance or shock, but that truly hadn't occurred to me.
When I look at that precious photograph, I see my valiant (yet such sad) attempt at a smile. I tried to pin that smile on then, amidst the devastation. I also know I pinned it on many times in those early days – call it a coping mechanism if you like. However, I feel incredibly thankful that I felt such love for Tom instantly as I know it is not guaranteed.

Tom playing in the water Tom's early months
During the difficult first month of Tom's life I took huge comfort in the cards and letters which so many of you sent, lots of you sharing your own experiences in words and poems which I have kept and treasure. How I cried (well sobbed, actually) during those long worry-filled days and nights with Tom in special care as I read those special words from so many of you.
It's funny how alone you feel and yet realise that many have trodden the path before you and that many will after you, gives comfort and hope.
I know that I've been a little nervous of sharing my thoughts before, as for everyone it is a different story – some mirroring mine and others so different. I'm strongly aware that some will agree with, and many disagree with comments I make, as I do with others.

To gloss over the sadness Dan and I felt and still do feel sometimes (more for the difficult times ahead for Tom than for ourselves these days) would be unfair to those people and their families.
Yet, I want to give hope to anyone feeling grief. You WILL feel better and most certainly you'll laugh again – LOTS! Of course it has been, is, and always will be tough for us in some ways.
Luckily, after those early years we were discharged from Great Ormond St and Tom's health remains really rather good.
Of course there are the frequent visits to numerous health professionals to monitor pretty much everything! Eyes, ears, thyroid and varying exploratory ops, one of which gave us a wheat free diet enabling a nappy-less world…finally!
There's also a constant battle for educational provision. We are very lucky indeed that our local mainstream school provides a healthy and inclusive environment which Tom, and I'm sure the whole school, will benefit from.

Without a doubt life is completely full on. We try and take each day as it comes. I still find it so very hard thinking of (and therefore worrying about) Tom's future. But all that aside, the joy, utter delight and love we share is so incredible, I actually find it difficult to put into words (and that's saying something for a QVC presenter!!)
Claire and Tom playing on the beach So, how do I describe Tom?

Beautiful – blonde as can be and blue-eyed to boot!

Tenacious – from day one, which has stood him in good stead, he tries, tries and tries again until he cracks it!

Humorous – he has the most contagious giggle.

Stubborn and independent – dangerously so when it involves visiting friends half way down the road on his scooter without our knowledge, oh and did I mention that he was naked!

Mischievous – he thinks sneaking the hose pipe and blasting INSIDE the house is most hysterical to note just one. You know there's a catalogue!

Loving – now that's one I must explain. I struggled so much with this description, often used to describe children and adults with Down's Syndrome. However, I now understand what it means, as generally children lose their inhibitions and are more socially aware of acceptable behaviour, except perhaps a lot of children with Down's Syndrome.

So yes, the cuddles and kisses ARE delicious, as I'm sure the lady Tom hugged in Tesco's would agree. And the teenagers he sidled up to saying "Hello lovely girls" (their faces were a picture), or the man who Tom took a shine to and insisted on sitting on his lap! If that makes him loving then there's no end to it! Tom is sensitive, knowing instinctively when someone is sad and is always the one to fix it with a special touch or kiss. You know I could go on and on.

Coping day to day

Tom with Joseph and Maddie Many people said Tom had chosen us as his parents. It gave me comfort in those early days, but again I battled with that as some babies I knew had been born to parents who couldn't or wouldn't cope. I wondered if God had given Tom to us as a lesson for us to learn…
I still don't know the answer to that one, but what I do know is that Tom is wholly loved by us, appreciated by us and by so many people who know him or meet him. 

Joseph and Madelaine have a brother who is a little different to them but that begs the question, what's normal these days? They adore each other, well for now at least. We are a lucky and happy family and I'll jolly well do my utmost to stay that way!
Would I wave a magic wand and get rid of that pesky tiny extra chromosome, number 21? I jolly well would, for Tom, so life may be that little bit easier for him. But, only if all the other amazing bits that make up my fantastic son are retained!
I'd like to leave you with the Down's Syndrome website and a most inspiring poem – Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kinglsey. It was sent to me by some special QVC viewers and it lives on my fridge and I read it often.
With much love and thanks for your ongoing support,
Claire, Dan, Tom, Joe and Maddie.


For more information on Down's Syndrome visit


  1. Emma April 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm -  Reply

    Claire, you are such a inspiration. What a lucky little boy to have such a loving mum! On screen you come across so friendly and a happy person, so nice to watch.
    I have not got any children but if I was to be dealt the same card in life as you I only hope I could be as strong and loving as you.
    Your children are beautiful and are very lucky to have you (and Dan of course!)
    Happy Birthday Tom!

  2. Diane April 30, 2009 at 3:38 pm -  Reply

    Oh Claire, how emotional I am reading about your beautiful son, it is such a rollercoaster having a child with Down’s.
    My daughter is now 18, I still count my blessings every day that she is still with us, she was born with a very complex heart condition, with nothing to loose she underwent radical sugery 8 years ago, we are forever endebted to the wonderful surgeons, Doctors and nurses at G.O.S.H.
    I have two other daughters of 17 & 15, they have grown into such caring and compassionate girls, who love their sister so very much.
    Your whole family will be shaped by your extraordinary boy
    these children have such a lot to give and keep us constantly reminded of the truly important things in life.
    I initially grieved for the child I thought I should have had, now I realise, this is as it should be.
    I would like to thank you Claire for being so candid, it will help a lot of other families in a similar situation.
    Keep smiling!
    Happy Birthday Tom, have a super day!
    I really do wish your whole family Love Luck and Best Wishes, wherever life takes you. x

  3. Nicola Rippon April 30, 2009 at 5:23 pm -  Reply

    Oh Claire, what a very moving account of your lives together! I have some experience of Down’s children because the sister of an old friend of mine is a Down’s child and what a delight she is! I count myself as fortunate to have known her (and her incorrigable and loving spirit). You write so eloquently about your experiences – thank you for sharing what must be very private feelings with us. Your joy in all your children is so apparent and I am sure it will help others who are worried about what cards fate has dealt them and inspire them to keep smiling and carry on. A motto of mine has long been that we can only live the life we’re in, so there’s no point in fretting about the one denied to us. My love and best wishes to you and your gorgeous family!

  4. Claire Sutton April 30, 2009 at 5:26 pm -  Reply

    Thankyou so very much for your response to my story, all the more as you dont yet have children! Your words mean such a lot…
    Claire, and Tom too!! x

  5. Claire Sutton April 30, 2009 at 5:27 pm -  Reply

    Gosh, I too am battling emotion reading about your lovely girls Diane.
    I support GOSH, not only for their care of Tom but for the incredible work that you too have experienced. Thank goodness for their skills!
    I felt warm hearing that your younger girls have developed a beautiful side, I see already with Joe and Maddie that happening. I’m aware I must tread carefully for them.
    I so appreciate your reply Diane, it has taken me some time to be able to do this, but Im glad, and as you say I hope it may help someone somewhere.
    Love Claire

  6. zeenat April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm -  Reply

    Hello Claire I have been wanted to write to you since the day Alison Young announced that you had given birth and that your little boy has Down syndrome I heart went out to you on that day but I knew with the support of your husband and family you will come out stronger like I did years ago when the doctor said that my son have DUCHENNE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY and also he might not see his twelve birthday(he is my first born)I felt like my entire world was crumbling around me but I took solace in DMD website reading other parents experiences and came across one parent that wrote “god has already chosen a home where he is going to send those gifted children where they are going to be loved unconditionally”.He is now fourteen and doing well at school and I must thank those all the medical team for their support during those years.You are a wonderful person and my inspiration for the days I feel low all Ihave to do is tune to qvc.Happy birthday to Tom and God bless.Zeenat

  7. Sharon Meredith April 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire,
    It was wonderful to read your story, and althought my son has Autism I TOTALLY understand your feelings and emotions. My son is totally amazing despite how hard things are for him in every day life, and like your son he never gives up! We battle on every day, taking one day at a time to give him the chance to lead a full happy life. We still worry about his future, but we only have to look at him to know we are so blessed.
    Wishing you and your family all the best. Sharonx

  8. christine snell April 30, 2009 at 6:43 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire i am sitting here feeling very emotional, as i can relate to everything you have said.My son Adam has a severe learning disability due to a rare brain condition yes i can remember the brave face you put on and still do at times!!but he is a very happy 14year old who adores school and we love him so so much.I too thought i must of being a bad person in another life for it to happen to us- why wasnt i punished not my special little boy who we had waited 10 yrs for he didnt deserve this!.I too worry about the future and what it will bring. Thank you Claire for writing about your precious boy and wish him lots of luck for the future he is blessed to have such a great mum and dad to guide him through lifes journey GOOD LUCK!Love Tom for who he is not who he might of been this was said to me in the early days which i took comfort from . sending my love to you all

  9. Sarah Kirrage April 30, 2009 at 6:46 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on what is a heart breaking subject. You are an inspiration. Tom is blessed to have you as his Mum.

  10. Hazel M Pliott April 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm -  Reply

    Claire, I do so admire you and your familY. Fate dealt you a hard blow, but you seem to be coping with it so well. There are bound to be hard times still to come, but I reckon you have the strength to come thro smiling.
    Your account made me cry and smile at the same time!
    love Hazel

  11. Magda Chetty April 30, 2009 at 7:56 pm -  Reply

    My Dear Claire
    I was in tears reading your Tom story, not because it is sad, but because it is wonderful. I had a twin brother who was Down”s child, and also had a great mother just like you are. We had a great time as children together, my mum always made sure we loved our brother ( we were 4 in total), he was very loving just like Tom. The three of us loved him so much, I would not worry about Joseph and Madeline feeling any diff, when they get older, we never did, he was our great brother no matter what, or what other kids said. He died at the age of 35, (iam now 52),and there is not a day pass without thinking about the time we had together,and the love we had for each other. You are a great family ( the perfect one for Tom to have). From the deepest part of my heart I wish you all the best. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR TOM.

  12. Diane May 1, 2009 at 10:56 am -  Reply

    Dear Claire, thank you so much for your kind reply, it is amazing to see how many people you have touched with your honest account.
    It does lift my spirits that so many people out there do care, and sadly do have to experience similar scenarios,and that we can give eachother strength in difficult times.
    In a society supposedly where everyone has to be ‘perfect’ (whatever that is),mother nature has a way of reminding us that everyone has so much to offer in this world, no matter what card they have been dealt.
    Holland can be a wonderful place. x
    Have a lovely weekend, we shall be thinking of Tom on his Birthday.
    Diane and family x

  13. Claire Sutton May 1, 2009 at 5:31 pm -  Reply

    I am so utterly touched by all your thoughts and words. Good job I can type this as I wouldn’t be able to speak just now.
    Im sending this quickly but will reply properly soon,
    Till then
    Claire XXX

  14. Cheryl May 1, 2009 at 5:44 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire,
    I have just read your blog about your son Tom and I am sitting here in tears, you have been so honest about your feelings and you really are an inspiration to other people who may be going through the same thing and feeling alone, frightened, confused and desperately worried for the future. Your son is a very lucky and totally georgous little boy to have you as his mummy. God bless you and all your lovely family, you really are a pleasure to watch, you come across as somebody who would be a fantastic and loyal friend to have, maybe one day we will meet.
    Love to you all.

  15. Helen May 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm -  Reply

    What beautiful words about your family. My family have been dealt some bitter blows regarding health, my sister born with heart defects (who now has a little girl of her own) and my mum battling cancer – twice!!! A truly inspirational lady. My health is non too good having M.E. for years, but have a beautiful little girl also. When that large, big black cloud comes lurking overhead, as it has done quite often in times of stress and worry, I too sob and feel angry with the rest of the world. Then, I realized one day one very important thing, my precious family and I have one thing in common, we’re alive!! Life is precious, whatever guise we take or whatever we dress like, it really doesn’t matter. Being alive rules and thats that. Bad days happen but so do good ones. Thank you for being so honest Claire, take care and I’m always here if you feel like a moan!!!
    luv Helen xxxx

  16. Joanna Downey May 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire, I went on to your blog because it’s always like having a chat with you, I never expected to find such a beautiful and eloquent account of your life with Tom. I was moved beyond words. Our first child, a little boy, died on the day he was born and we never found out why. However, I’ve always known that his life would have been severely compromised and that I wasn’t strong enough to deal with that. I can identify with the feelings you and Dan both must have experienced about life not going according to plan. To ease the pain I convinced myself that it was all for a reason and, had he lived, we would not have gone on to have our older Daughter, Rebecca, and our family would have been so very different. I found your story inspirational and I’ve sent Bex, who works for a childrens hospice charity, details of “Welcome to Holland”. I wish you all the best for the future and hope that Monday will be super day, ths sun is going to shine and let’s face it 8 is a wonderful age and 9 (which was my favourite) is even better. Love and much gratitude Joanna.

  17. Kristina Moore May 1, 2009 at 7:11 pm -  Reply

    Hello Claire, I think you should be justly and intensely proud of all your children and you and Dan. I don’t have children and the clock has now stopped for me but I do have two nieces (one is 7 and one almost 2) – if only I had their energy. I have CFS and believe that life sends you challenges to teach you things whether they are obvious from the beginning or they come to light later on. An ex work colleague of mine from my first job has a daughter who has Downs and whenever we went out from work Anne came too. I never thought of her as anything other than Anne. I think it is the rest of the world that needs training, not Tom. He has a very loving family who supports him in everything he does and that is priceless.
    Best wishes and love

  18. Deborah May 1, 2009 at 9:26 pm -  Reply

    Claire, what an amazing lady you are. The love you have for your children shines out on screen when you talk about them, you have a beautiful family.
    Happy Birthday to Tom for the 4th ( mine is the 3rd) hope he has a fantastic day and gets spoiled rotten,
    Love to you and your family

  19. sylvia May 1, 2009 at 9:38 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire and family
    You come across on the tele as a very happy and content person.I,m sure you and Dan must have been specially chosen to be the wonderful parents to Thomas.I went through 2 treatments of IVF and unfortunately things didn,t work out for me and my husband.I,m 48 now and there are lots of regrets in my life about this but I do believe in destiny.Please continue to be how you are and you won,t go wrong.Lots of Love and A HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THOMAS.

  20. julie May 2, 2009 at 2:55 pm -  Reply

    I was in tears reading that. You are an inspiration. You have an absolutely beautiful family.
    I have worked with children with Downs Syndrome, and they are just wonderful. So loving and wonderful in so many ways.
    It’s all in God’s plan. And it really is time that Stigma’s for so many things went! That’s one of the big problems in this world.
    Love to you and your family Claire.
    p.s. so glad you managed to find out about sparkle (fab name), and her not laying eggs.

  21. Hayberry May 3, 2009 at 12:05 am -  Reply

    Hello Claire
    You are an inspiration, it was great reading your story, u really have an amazing attitude to life. Keep going, keep smiling 🙂 PS I see why u love the Holland poem it’s very good!

  22. Lorraine May 3, 2009 at 8:08 pm -  Reply

    Lovely Claire, How kind of you to give us a true insight to Toms birth and life. You are such a kind lady and of course a great Mother. I understand what is like to look after a sick child. My daughter who is 11 and myself both have ME – funny enough we both follow a gluten/wheat free diet and this makes a real difference to us both.
    Love and hugs to your family
    Love Lorraine xx

  23. valerie blake May 4, 2009 at 10:12 am -  Reply

    Dear Claire
    i feel so moved by your amazing words,children are a joy and inspiration to us all.mine are now grown up but still they are my proudest ones.
    i remember when tom was born and now he is a handsome young boy happy birthday to him.
    all enjoy the day
    best wishes Valerie

  24. seelybee May 4, 2009 at 3:35 pm -  Reply

    Claire – It’s so good that you’ve decided to share your story and help to raise awareness of the joys and challenges of these children for people who don’t have direct experience.
    I do feel for your concerns for Tom’s future- could I share my thoughts with you about this based on more than 30 years of working with families like yours? This is that you can and should have the same expectations for Tom as you do for your other children – to be happy and healthy, to do as well as they can at school, to go on to further education or vocational training if they want to after school, and eventually to leave home to establish themselves as young adults. All of these things are achievable for Tom, he might just need a bit more time and support for each stage. I’ve seen some fantastic outcomes for young people with Down’s syndrome and other learning difficulties where families have taken this approach.
    The other suggestion would be to make sure that you get Tom a social worker by the time that he’s about 13/14 years old if he doesn’t have one already – this can help a lot with accessing options after school, such as college and supported living opportunities.
    Hope this helps a little, and keep on enjoying your lovely family.

  25. Sarah Thomas May 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm -  Reply

    Hiya Claire, I’ve just read your lovely story about your beautiful son’s birthday,and i am so moved by your emotions that I have just read, that I feel I have to write to you. I have no children of my own as yet, hopefully one day, I will be blessed with what must be the best job in the world-motherhood, and all I can hope is I have as much love and care in me, to give my children that both you and Dan have, I can only try to appreciate how your lives have turned around, but the love that you and Dan have for each other,and your children, has made your family what it is today. Whenever I see you presenting you are always so happy and cheerful, can I just say you are an inspiration.
    Take care Sarah. XX

  26. Mandy May 6, 2009 at 2:13 pm -  Reply

    Hi Clare
    I was one of the many who was brought to tears both happy and sad at the account of Tom’s story. I have been blessed with two wonderful sons now aged 19 and 14 who have brought such joy (and sometimes hard times) to our lives. You are my favourite presenter on QVC and I would like to wish you and your family a special day on Tom’s birthday.
    Regards Mandy

  27. Dawn Bore May 9, 2009 at 12:34 am -  Reply

    Welcome to Holland
    Iam often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability, to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience, to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. I’ts like this.
    When your going to have a baby, its like planning a fabulous vacation trip to italy.
    You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas of venice. you may learn some handy phrases in italian. I’ts all very exciting.
    After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. you pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says,
    Welcome to Holland.
    Holland???you say. What do you mean Holland? i signed up for Italy. All my life ive dreamed of going to Italy. But theres been a change in the flight plan. Theyve landed in
    Holland and there you must stay.
    The important thing is that they havent taken you to a horrible, disgusting place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. Its just a differnt place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you never would have met.
    Its just a different place. Its slower paced than Italy,less flashy than italy. But after you have been there a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
    But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all talking about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say Yes thats where i was suppose to go. Thats what i had planned.
    The pain of that will never, ever,ever, go away because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.
    But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didnt get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.
    Dear Claire hope you liked the poem
    I have Child you is special needs and he is love of my life.
    Dawn Bore

  28. Dawn Bore May 9, 2009 at 12:43 am -  Reply

    Sorry Claire
    I send you Welcome to Holland poem without reading all of your blog but i agree its a great poem and we have it on our wall in nurses office.
    Regards Dawn Bore

  29. Margaret May 10, 2009 at 1:01 am -  Reply

    Hi Clare, just felt I had to write to you and say what a truly lovely lady you are, your children are a credit to you and hubby Dan , in a loving home everything can be overcome as deep down we seem to find an inner strength and keep smiling , A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your darling boy Tom , thank you for sharing ,God Bless Margaret.

  30. Jill Wheeler May 10, 2009 at 7:07 am -  Reply

    Dear Claire,What a moving story. I am sat here with tears rolling down my face-but smiling at the same time! You and Dan have such strength-just when you think you haven’t got anymore to give,it comes out of nowhere.My son Matt,was born so-called ‘normally’. When he was 18months old he went into hospital for a hip op,which should have been quite routine. However, he suffered an anaesthetic accident,and we were told he’d never have much quality of life,never talk or walk. Sadly,the latter is true,he will not ever walk,but my goodness can he talk!!He can hold a very grown-up conversation,and certainly knows his own mind. He is so loving,and a very sensitive young man-he is 26 next month-but still my ‘baby’!Everyone who meets him are touched by his happy nature, and cheeky grin He gets away with murder-and he knows it. Those early years were very hard,not only caring for Matt,and his sister,but fighting a Court battle which lasted 11 years.There were times when I thought I couldn’t cope,but seeing how well HE coped with everything that life threw at him,made it easier for us.Life still has its’ ups and downs and traumas with Matt,and I know I’ll always be needed to pick up the pieces-he thinks that one phone call to Mum can sort everything! However,just one look at that gorgeous happy face STILL makes my heart melt. Claire and Dan,all the very best to you both,you have raised an amazing son-and to Tom-have a fantastic 8th birthday!! Love from Jillxx

  31. Sasha May 10, 2009 at 7:46 am -  Reply

    Claire,you are truely wonderful, as a mum, lady and presenter. You are such an inspiration to so many for many reasons, especially me. I have two daughters myself (5 years old and a 10 year old), and not a day goes by, (even a bad one!) that I don’t thank the gods and heavens above for my girls. All children are a blessing, regardless of the way they come to us. I can only try to imagine the heartache yourself and other parents feel in such situation. Do keep strong and have faith. The pictures of you and your beautiful children are so gorgeous, keep sharing them. Please give Tom a late birthday hug from all of us. Lots of love and best wishes to your family and your lovely self. Sasha XXXXXXXX

  32. suzanne May 10, 2009 at 8:56 am -  Reply

    you have a beauiful way with words. you are so honest ans so touching. god bless you and yours. keep smiling,

  33. Lynne May 10, 2009 at 10:59 am -  Reply

    Claire, Idont quite know what to say but feel I had to say something. What a lucky, lucky boy Tom is that he chose you as a mother! I have four beautiful, healthy grown up ‘normal’ children- whatever normal is deemed to be and have always felt that ‘There but for the grace of god’ I truly feel you must be an inspiration to others. What shines through the most is: He is our son and we love him, no matter what. God bless you all.

  34. Diana x May 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm -  Reply

    Hello Claire
    I want to thank you for being so open hearted in allowing us all a glimpse into your life – the pictures are truly lovely & show us clearly the precious love there is in your family. It takes courage to face an unknown future, something I am sure you & Dan must have in abundance, but love & support can conquer most problems, so think of us all as little pillows around you – there for you even though we haven’t met & I’m sure in many thoughts & prayers. I wish you & your family the very best life can offer you in the future.

  35. Florence Rain May 10, 2009 at 1:38 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire
    Thank you for sharing your very intimate thoughts – your shock, anxiety and joys. Your little lad is so lucky to have the most loving parents anyone could wish for. You have have such a beautiful loving family not forgetting your husband.
    I am welling up but before signing off I have come
    to the conclusion that God only gives special children to very special people and you and Dan most certainly were at the top of His list.
    Happy Birthday Tom and God Bless your wonderful family.

  36. Morag May 10, 2009 at 1:46 pm -  Reply

    Like so many other viewers, I found the story of your family truly inspirational. You and Dan have obviously created such a loving and happy family for all your children. Tom’s brother and sister will grow up with a huge helping of love and unconditional acceptance of everyone, which is all the more important in this judgemental world of ours. And Tom himself is truly blessed to have such fantastic and loving parents. It must have been hard to be so open about your story, but it has been such an inspiration to so many people that hopefully it has made you feel that so many viewers who feel that they know you just a little from seeing you as a presenter, now know a bit more about what a great mum and human being you are too. God Bless you and all your family.

  37. ann huntington May 10, 2009 at 2:22 pm -  Reply

    hi claire im sat here in floods of tears you and dan have a very special family. myself having 2 fab sons and 3 very special grandchildren especially my first grandson who was born with cleft pallete and hare lip.we were all shocked at first but sean now 12 and several opps later he is the light of my life what god takes away from them he gives back treble fold in other qualities. happy birthday handsome tom take care claire love ann

  38. Susie Murray May 10, 2009 at 5:57 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire, I wanted to write after reading about your beautiful little boy. I can understand how you feel, your concern for your child’s future. Sadly for my family I didn’t know about the heart condition that would rob me of my daughter at 21yrs old. My son has a future but he is constantly monitored & people treat him differently. Like you, I worry about how he will cope with the world’s reaction to his health problems when he’s older (he’s 15 now).
    I too believe that these precious souls are sent to us for us to be their parents. We learn from them & they change our world & those around us too. I don’t regret having my daughter & would still have her just as she was, even if it meant loosing her at 21. They are precious gifts & I know my son will go out into the world in his own way & bring joy to those he touches too.
    Don’t worry about your lovely little son if that’s at all possible. He sounds a lovely soul who touches people with his special gifts. Life will find a way for him to share his gifts with those of us lucky enough to cross his path.
    God bless you & your lovely family,
    Susie & family from Cornwall

  39. Linda Jeffrey May 10, 2009 at 7:06 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire,
    I was so touched when I read your soul touching story about u and your family. I would agree that God had chosen Dan and yourself as parents for Thomas so that he would have a fantastic life because of you as parents.
    I myself was born 39 years ago with a Cleft Palate and was touch and go whether I would survive. It was a huge shock to my Mum at the time because there were no scans to tell these things all these years ago. But thank God that I was brought into a home with great parents who nursed me through 3 major operations in my early years and many years of speach therapy and travelling to hospital every year of my life until I was 18 to see how my palate and mouth were developing. Thank God again that I came through ok and all my life and in my older life no-one would know that I had a cleft palate and I love to sing which is a blessing as I might not have been able to speak let alone sing.
    I am now blessed myself with my own family a little girl called Emerald who is a blessing to me and I was asked when pregnant did I want a scan that would tell me if she had a cleft palate and I said NO! I would have loved her just the same whatever.
    You Dan Joe and Maddie will give Tom all the love and more he will ever need and will say again God could not have chosen better parents and siblings for Tom to be blessed with.
    Thanks for sharing your feelings and thoughts with us all Claire, I dont know you personally but u are such a warm lovely lady and you are my favourite presenter and always have been.
    Take care
    Luv to u all
    Linda x x

  40. Claire May 10, 2009 at 7:16 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire, what an amazing & honest story, thankyou for sharing it with us. You are an inspiration to many.
    I’m a mum of two wee ones my youngest being 13 months & were advised when I was pregnant to have the nuchal scan as I was 34, which we did & I remember being very nervous about it, for us the result was negative, had we have been dealt a different card I would like to think we’d have been as amazing as you & Dan…
    Thankyou you again & the Welcome to Holland had me crying too!!
    Hope you all had a great day for Toms birthday!…
    Love Claire x

  41. chantel briody May 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm -  Reply

    Hiya Claire
    Hope you are ok, I chatted to you a few months ago when I got through to the competiton on qvc when you were with Julian, I didnt realise that Tom has Downs, I am disabled, I have spina bifida and use a wheelchair and cant stand pity as I am sure you cant with Tom. Anyway I hope Tom had a great birthday and keep smiling.
    Love Chantel xxx

  42. Jean Ellison May 10, 2009 at 11:39 pm -  Reply

    Thankyou, Claire, for sharing the story of your beautiful son, Tom, and your other two gorgeous children too! I’m sure you will have been an inspiration to loads of other parents also! You are a very lovely and special lady, Claire. Love to all your family.

  43. Juliet Pomerance May 11, 2009 at 1:50 pm -  Reply

    Claire you are incredible mother and a wonderful person, and I find you an inspiration as you breeze through your days looking styish and immaculate, with time, patience, kind words and smiles for all who meet you. You deal with your worries in a positive matter and bring happiness to those around you. All the very best to you and your lovely family. Jules x

  44. Jennifer May 13, 2009 at 1:19 am -  Reply

    Dear Claire,I just read your blog about your son Tom,I have a daughter with Rett Syndrome and I know just how you feel about the love we have for our children,but it’s the love they give to us it’s magical,it takes over our senses does’nt it and when they smile at you it’s true love with no strings.I’ve kept my daughter for 26yrs and in those years I’ve not only seen her grow in love but how much love it has given to my son and how close as a family we are.I know that you already know that communication between all of you is key,especially your other children,they’ll grow up knowing a love that others will never understand,but they will always share that bond with Tom and you and your husband,my sonis 29 now and I’m a nan myself to a little girl.My son and Iare still close.I do think God gives these children and it’s up to us to trust him to see past the pain and grief,secret envy of others,it can make or break you.I have learned an awful lot and met wonderful people over the years.Enjoy loving your family only those who’ve been through really knows.I think you’ll do just great your children and you two will have a wonderful fulfilled life together,remember lots of people love you,and you’re not alone.By the way Tom celebrates his birthday on the same day as my daughter,4/5/83.Take care Jenniferxxxxx

  45. Dian May 20, 2009 at 8:30 am -  Reply

    I was really touched by your blog on Thomas’ 8th birthday, how time flies. Like everyone else I feel like you are a friend, I have watched you on QVC when you got married, and had your wee family. I was touched too when you brought Thomas on QVC for his first appearance, so much so I stitched him a card with his name on it. You and Dan are really an inspiration, and I too had a tear in my eye reading your story. Always enjoy watching you on QVC, you always seem to ask the questions I would want to ask! Keep up the good work.

  46. Sarah Thomson May 21, 2009 at 10:37 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire, Just sat and sobbed my way through your story about your lovely family. I don’t have any experience of Down’s Syndrome but I do have a five year old son who we adopted when he was thirteen months old. We went through what at the time and for a long time after felt like hell coping with everything that comes with the loss of a child – because being told you’ll never be able to do what should be the most natural thing in the world is just like losing a child. Then we found our darling boy and suddenly it all made sense. I finally realised why God had put us through such heartache – because we, my hubby and I, were meant to find and love unconditionally this baby. I truly believe that we were meant to be his parents and that is why I write this in response to your story because I believe that anything is possible and perhaps God did want things to work out this way for you all. What a wonderful thing you have, a beautiful family. I thank you for sharing your story because you give us all hope and courage to smile through the tears and remember that life is for living. God Bless x

  47. Ann-Marie Wilson May 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire
    I enjoy watching you on QVC I always feel that you cheer me up, you are always smiling and happy.
    I have just read your blog about your lovely son Tom, it really moved me I felt I had to write a short note to you. You have a lovely family and that you are coping well. I will say a pray for you and your family when I go to Church on Sunday. You are definately an inspiration to me.
    All the best Ann-Marie

  48. kerry mears May 28, 2009 at 5:20 pm -  Reply

    That was a beauiful, moving story of Tom’s birth. It moved me to tears and was a lovely tribute to him. Im sure that Tom, together with his siblings, will bring you and your husband untold joy. I hope Tom has a wonderful birthday x

  49. hampers June 4, 2009 at 10:36 am -  Reply

    You are not alone in your quest … quest to give your child a better future in spite of his situation. I believe your child will have a very bright future because of your great love. Just hang on! Everything will be alright…happy new day & bday to your child and your family.

  50. janet west July 15, 2009 at 12:16 pm -  Reply

    dear clair i also have a downs baby in the family you are a great mum i have 3 girls [well grown really] and 4 grown grandchildren but my neice had a baby at 18 her first like you and had downs and like you she coped you are a role model and shows that you can have a great life whith your child keep up the good work jan

  51. Claire Sutton July 17, 2009 at 4:11 pm -  Reply

    Thankyou so so much for your reply to me, I’m sorry to be so late in replying. It really touches me to read your story too.
    I know how very lucky I am to have escaped the sadness you had to endure and I’m sure whilst your girls ARE your life, Amelie is never ever forgotten.
    Gosh, what a busy time you have. I for a short time endured the indignities of pushing a triple buggy, as Tom was not walking and Joe so tiny too. How do you guys get around?
    I bet you never get far without chatting! How old are the girls, dressed alike? Sorry, questions questions!
    Hoping today has been a happy day
    Love Claire x

  52. Claire Sutton July 17, 2009 at 4:12 pm -  Reply

    Thankyou for your reply. I hope the sleeping badly is ok now, or is it usual for you? Poor you.
    Just collecting T,J and M as they break up today.
    Summer has begun, so chaos and mess will be the order of the day!!
    Love and sleepy dust…Claire xx

  53. Liz Fairns July 23, 2009 at 9:28 am -  Reply

    Hi Claire
    I know it late to reply to your blog about wee darling Tom but I just came across the blogs. I have 6 grand-children one of whom Jessica was born with Downs Syndrome. Jessica is the most beatiful appealing wee girl a family would want. My daughter did not know she was expecting a child with Downs and like yourself was shocked and a little sad at first. However about an hour after she was born my daughter and her husband said to each other this is our daughter and she needs us and got on with loving her and caring for her in as “so called” a normal way as possible, they are very positive about explaining their feelings about their daughter having Downs Syndrome and speak very openly to anyone who comes in contact with them about Jessica. She keeps very well and at 2 years old is talking, nearly walking and she even can count to 10, (my daughter even though she works spends lots of time teaching Jessica things)Jessica is very mischievious and has a very appealing personality she also learns well.She has a big sister who is 14 and someone asked her sister would you like Jessica not to have Downs Syndrome her reply after thinking was “no, as she wouldn’d be Jessica then and I love her as she is” this reply touched my heart and I will always remember it. I wish you and your lovely family love, health and happiness. I love Jessica with all my heart and am so glad she came into our family as she brings such joy to myself and my husband as well as the rest of my family.

  54. Helen July 23, 2009 at 7:13 pm -  Reply

    Hello Claire, I have just read Welcome to Holland, which made me cry, but also smile at the end. My nephew has Down’s Syndrome. He was born with his stomach and intenstines unconnected, which was fixed soon after his birth, a month early, though he still has feeding problems and medication. He was SO tiny at about 4 and a half pounds. His heart is being monitored, but at 20 months, after initially saying an op at 2yrs, they now say 3 or 4, which seems positive to me. Sadly my brother and his partner live in Edinburgh and I’m in Kent, so visits are sadly few and far between. (I’m a teacher, so flying weekend visits aren’t really possible). Your story is so positive Claire and you are so sunny when I see you on qvc. Thank you for sharing your story with the masses. I imagine that it could be quite a scary thing to do to open up your life on a blog. Take care and good wishes. Helen from Kent.

  55. Maggie Gough July 27, 2009 at 3:48 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire, have just read your accounts of your life with Tom. Watching you on QVC it is clear there is something extra special about you and now i know what it is. God bless you, Tom and all your family and may He keep you all safe in His care. Maggie.X

  56. Emily Winter December 3, 2009 at 9:00 pm -  Reply

    Thank you Claire for being such a wonderful woman and an inspiration to all,Emily Winter

  57. Matt Bailey March 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire,
    You really are an inspiration! I am also a parent of a child with Downs Syndrome, My daughter Taylor is 14 months old and it has been the most emotional 14 months of my life! I have been through the lows and the highs of adjusting to the fact that the baby we were expecting was not what arrived.
    Having Taylor has also opened my eyes to fantastic work that the Downs Syndrome Association do and the support they provide in the darkist hours of becoming a parent of a special one.

  58. Matt Bailey March 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm -  Reply

    To raise money for the Downs Syndrome Association myself and 2 friends are going to visit all 92 football league clubs in 92 hours. We are asking each club to donate a singed shirt so we can sell these off to raise more money for the DSA. Would you and QVC be able to help with a shirt auction??

  59. Karen Essam April 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire,I would like to post a comment, bit am unable to at the moment as my 22 year old son who has Downs Syndrome is sitting next to me at the moment and wondering why I have tears rolling down my face and keep blowing my nose after reading your blog about Tom. Karen xx

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