The end of a chapter


It’s all over… Tom’s school career has come to an end and I feel as though the tightrope on the high wire has been stretched far into the distance and I’m a little uncertain as to the squashiness of the crash mats below!!

School’s out for summer or in Tom’s case, school’s out full stop!

Tom Sutton

I really cannot believe where these last five years have disappeared to… except I can clearly see in the confident young man before me just how vital those five years have been.

The selecting of schools for our children is such a difficult process, we angst over the choices, swot up on the result leagues and desperately try and tune in to (or out of in some cases)  the ‘gut feeling’ …praying we got it right and that our offspring achieve well and of course are happy and that’s all before the lottery of which school you are actually allocated!

Selecting a Secondary School for Tom, my son with extra needs was even trickier.

My check list was:

1- I want Tom to be happy

2- I want him to develop (but most of all be happy)

3- I wanted an inclusive setting (but most of all be happy)

4- I wanted them to want him… (that way we all stood a fighting chance!)

And with this in mind I set out…

I had “We have had one of those before and it failed, save yourself the struggle, he will end up in a Special school anyway”. “Those” meaning a child with Downs Syndrome by the way.

I had “I don’t know if my headmaster will take Tom”.

I had “I don’t actually know anything about Downs Syndrome.” This was from the specialist SENCO at the school whose job it is to know.

I had “I would be so worried for him, children can be so cruel you know, I would be so scared of bullying.” Again from a SENCO.

And I had “Would you throw him in a swimming pool if he hadn’t any arms?”…

And then I visited the school which became Tom’s  school… and was engulfed in positivity.

That positive attitude has enabled Tom to fully participate in a mainstream environment, to learn alongside his peers yet develop at his own slower pace. He has made true friendships which warm my heart and inclusion was certainly seen at its best with a “can do” attitude. After school clubs and school trips abroad were all made available to Tom. The staff have all gone above and beyond to deliver the best five years of education and experience and a confident and happy young man with skills to take forward is the result. This to me is more important than league tables and I cannot thank them enough.

Here is a little video that Tom’s friend captured when Tom was presented with the certificate for the Most Inspiring Student (they wrote Awesome on the Certificate as Tom would then understand what it meant).

Now that was Oscar-worthy to me and I have to admit I cried hearing all of them cheering him.

As we know all good things come to an end but boy oh boy was it a fabulous end…

On his last day of school I felt I was collecting a celebrity! He had enjoyed a party with the team of extra support staff, stocked up on plenty of nibbles and cake (they know Tom so well) and came away with gifts and a huge bag holding all his certificates (Tom has taken AQA’s at school in place of GCSE’s). There were tears amidst the dancing! And as we walked out to leave, the Head told Tom that the door was always open for him and he was proud of him. Tom went in for a handshake and received a hug instead! A lovely moment.

Claire Sutton's son Tom

Before term ended the year 11’s hosted their Prom Night that was certainly a memorable occasion.

I have a friend who has some amazing cars… “don’t ask don’t get” is always my motto! So I asked and we got! An amazing and rare Ferrari in red to take Tom to his prom ( Cinderella eat your heart out! And me, as I didn’t even get a ride).

Oh the noise of it, and the excitement as he arrived amidst some fabulous modes of transport, a huge tractor, a child’s plastic tractor (the lad’s legs were up by his ears peddling it up to the entrance I can tell you), a ride-on lawn mower, vintage cars… you name it they were there.

Tom looked so handsome and thank goodness we had his lovely suit he had worn for Grannie’s wedding last year already sorted! One less headache. It was very special to see him among his friends, his best friend Cameron who’s been simply amazing from day one and given Tom the joy of knowing proper friendship. Storm, as you can see is such a beautiful girl (inside and out) who along with Amy and Hannah danced the night away with Tom, (special thanks to Alex, Storm’s  boyfriend for allowing Tom to monopolise her time at Prom!) Tom was presented with the sash for Best Transport which was wonderful and all thanks to my generous and huge-hearted friends Carol Anne and Nigel.

A momentous evening for sure.

I do hope you will forgive my indulgence in blogging about Tom. I am so proud of him and I hear from so many of you that you enjoy seeing his progress. I must at this point add in that I completely adore ALL my children and am super proud of Joe and Maddie to, just on this occasion Tom is taking centre stage!

Talking of centre stage… That’s exactly what our Today’s Special Value’s are aren’t they (like what I did there!!!!!)

So that takes me nicely to some rather spectacular TSV’ s coming your way.

Kelly Hoppen vase

The incredible and rather architectural Kelly Hoppen Vase will be your TSV on Thursday 3rd August, I was so happy when I placed it in my bedroom and realised the colour was absolutely perfect by my curtains and lampshade. I think Kelly would approve of my calm and gentle interior here… unlike some in my house which are a tad louder and crazier.

On Saturday 29th Caroline Archer will be gracing your screens with the Liz Earle Invigorate your Senses collection.

Liz Earle

With the perfect combination of summer skincare featuring two Super Sizes plus the return of the delightful limited edition Grapefruit and Patchouli Cleanse and Polish. It’s a wonderfully energising twist on the perennial classic that is the multi-award winning Cleanse and Polish. Summer means stickier temperatures and sun care protection so we must ensure we are scrupulous with our cleansing. Exfoliate to take the cleanse to a deeper level and then add the, ever present in my life, Instant Boost Skin Tonic which adds that essential drench of (delicious smelling) hydration before your Skin Repair Moisturiser.

There will be many delights from the shows on Saturday. Orange Flower Botanical Body Wash 214018 is an enduring favourite of mine, this time it’s in a duo. The new aromas in the limited edition haircare collection 233379 had me at hello. Geranium, citrus and vanilla! I cannot wait to try it. I personally love the shampoo and conditioner and find it delivers unrivaled shine and carefully nurtures my slightly (!!!) coloured hair so add in the spectacular new fragrances and it’s a win win.

I wrote recently about my oil love affair… well here’s a new kid on the block!!From Korres best selling skincare range Wild Rose I give you… Wild Rose Vitamin C Brightening Oil

Korres oil

I’m so loving using it ahead of its premiere airing as August Pick of the Month and you can also put it through its paces in your 30 days money back guarantee as there’s no P&P, don’t forget.

It’s all about a high natural content and is boosted with a special, stabilised oil soluble Vitamin C derivative, along with the glorious Wild Rose. It’s lighter than some I’ve used so easily and quickly absorbed. I like to pop it on first but you can mix with your moisturiser too.

The stats say it all for those of you who love your figures…

Of the 32 candidates in the trial

100% said skin appeared softer

88% said skin appeared smoother

100 % said skin appeared more moisturised

97% said skin appeared more revitalised

100% said elasticity seemed optimised

and 84% said skin appeared brighter…

It’s early days but I’m inclined to agree!

If you’ve successfully reached the end of this blog, Bravo! Thank you! And a Gold Star awaits you…

Always love a chat with you and to hear back is the icing on the cake.

Much love,

Claire xxxx


  1. Marie Mugford July 28, 2017 at 11:55 am -  Reply

    Hi Claire it is so good to read about your Tom and how proud you are of him and rightly so. I have been a volunteer in the past in a social club that has had several Downs Syndrome adults as members so I know how special and loving they are and enrich all our lives.
    Your blogs are always a good read you must have such a busy life but I bet you wouldn’t change it.
    Look forward to seeing on the Q.
    Marie xx

  2. Jackie July 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm -  Reply

    How lovely to read about Tom’s graduation. I spoke to you at a Beauty Bash when you were very concerned about Tom going to ‘big’ school. It is so lovely, all these years later, to see that your choices have worked out so well. I have followed Tom’s, and Joseph and Maddie’s, progress since they were born, please keep up the progress reports, QVC really is like an extended family!

    Special congratulations, of course, to Tom!

  3. Jill July 28, 2017 at 2:42 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire Rarely comment on this blog but have been following your family story and am so very pleased that your son Tom has reached his Graduation! A real milestone in any young persons development. So pleased for you all. Jilly X

  4. Diane July 28, 2017 at 2:45 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire and many congratulations Tom the car was the icing on the cake, I wish you all the luck in the future x
    School choices are very difficult as there is prejudice and pre conceived ideas, with SEN schools and mainstream we initially were lucky in that we had a small specialist school as our Daughter has lots of health issues and spent long periods in hospital, but half way through her education we were being coerced into mainstream school, for her we new she wouldn’t cope and fought for her to stay where she was and then they amalgamated with other special schools building a huge centre with too many varied needs and we felt failed by the system sadly.
    You just have to do what you think is the right thing at the time based on all our lovely youngsters needs and abilities as yes they may be Down’s but they are all individuals and that should be reflected in their education.
    Love & success,
    Diane x

  5. Gwen July 28, 2017 at 3:17 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire,

    What an AMAZING BLOG and what an AMAZING MUM, you and your family are wonderful, and how proud you all are of Tom and his achievments, which may not have been possible without the love and support of you all. The Gold Star must go to you and thank you so much for including all of us over the years with your very special stories of Tom and his exploits.

    Thanks again for a truly wonderful blog.

    Very best wishes to you and your family.


  6. Susan walker July 28, 2017 at 3:23 pm -  Reply

    Congratulations to Tom, I don’t often comment, always like to keep up with your news. Gosh Claire you and hubby are a credit to your lovely son and have done him proud, and will continue to do so. He has turned out to be a lovely young man and he will go far. Hes lovely and so are you. Well done Tom, and you have a wonderful family! X

  7. Alex July 28, 2017 at 7:25 pm -  Reply

    Wow, that was so great to read! It’s made me go all warm and squidgy inside! Well done to you all. Raising children is hard work and I totally agree, most of us just want our children to be happy above all things. I think Tom is a credit to you all, he’s a lucky young man to have had such a great start. So lovely to read all that, thank you for sharing x

  8. Fran Whitehead July 28, 2017 at 11:49 pm -  Reply

    Claire I loved reading your blog. It just brightened my day. You have every reason to feel incredibly proud of Tom. He is a credit to you and your husband. Life will throw him challenges but your happy confident young man will no doubt keep on surprising you and give you many reasons to be proud of him. I wish Tom the best of luck and happiness for the future.
    Fran x

  9. Lucy July 29, 2017 at 7:58 am -  Reply

    Hi Clare,another lovely blog,so heart felt and honest!Congratulations to Tom,what an inspiration he is,to more people than he will ever probably know!!
    Well done Tom and the Sutton family X

  10. Betnadette July 29, 2017 at 6:20 pm -  Reply

    Good luck to yr son tom wish him more happiness in future well done tom

  11. Susan July 29, 2017 at 6:37 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire,
    Happy graduation tom! What a handsome young man he is. And so well done for getting through his exams and big school. An achievement indeed. I’m sure it’s a bit scary for you all moving on but hopefully it will work out ok for you. We are none of us sure where we’ll end up which can be so hard to deal with but I know you are lucky to have dan to support you through. Congratulations again xx

  12. Sue Savage July 29, 2017 at 7:54 pm -  Reply

    What an amazing young man!

    I remember his first Christmas when you took him on set in his car seat. You were working with Kara (not Tritton) and you were so excited about breaking up for Christmas and then your husband brought him on. He was gorgeous (and still is) with gorgeous rosy cheeks. I have followed your reports on him with great interest ever since – thank you. He has done so very well, bless him. Congratulations!

    Thank God you are his mother you are amazing – your husband and other children must be very proud of you too. Always fighting Tom’s corner.

    I look forward to hearing where he goes from here. May I suggest the next Bond. He does have the car and good looks doesn’t he? My vote will be on Tom. Perfect!

    My very best wishes to your and your lovely family have a great summer.

  13. Debbie de Vries July 29, 2017 at 8:33 pm -  Reply

    Hi it’s Debbie from Opps Class it seems impossible that the little Thomas who attended class is all grown up it’s so lovely to read what Tom has achieved you must be bursting with pride.

  14. Barbara Trotman July 29, 2017 at 9:23 pm -  Reply

    A lovely read Claire. A very proud Mum and so you should be. Well done Tom and congratulations.

  15. Richard Parker July 29, 2017 at 10:42 pm -  Reply

    A lovely read Claire. Nice he had a fitting end to his time at school. I’ve got that task of choosing schools coming up soon. Big decisions. See you soon no doubt.

  16. Susan Podmore July 30, 2017 at 12:18 am -  Reply

    I enjoyed reading your article,you’re such a lovely and proud mummy;And congratulations to Tom x

  17. Emma wood July 30, 2017 at 9:09 am -  Reply

    I loved reading this. Congratulations to Tom!! X

  18. Indi Kalm July 30, 2017 at 10:03 am -  Reply

    It is such a privilege

  19. Diane July 30, 2017 at 11:15 am -  Reply

    Brought a tear to my eyes
    What a lovely story xx

  20. Joanne Peate July 30, 2017 at 1:25 pm -  Reply

    Lovely to read about Tom,he looked as though he really enjoyed himself.How lucky he is to have parents like you x

  21. Bev taylor July 30, 2017 at 4:43 pm -  Reply

    I am in tears! How proud you must be of your boy xxx Long may his progress continue!

  22. Angela Cruddas July 30, 2017 at 5:58 pm -  Reply

    I too have three children Max 15 Francesca 12 and Ruby 10 I`ve followed your blogs since you were pregnant with Tom so I feel like I know you!! It`s the hardest job in the world being a parent but WOW!!! what a wonderful job your doing three beautiful children, loving family you`ve got every reason to be proud and continue to do so well done you!! xxxxx

  23. Linda M Binns July 30, 2017 at 8:03 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire, I, along with Jackie, above letter, have also enjoyed following Tom, Joe and Maddie’s progress. I have met you a couple of times whilst visiting my daughter and family. Tom would have been 8 coming up 9 when my second grandson was born…… where has that time gone…? It is amazing but not unexpected to see how far Tom has come. What a handsome and stylish teenager he is. You should feel very proud of yourself for fighting so hard for Tom to have the experience of a full life, not half a cup, thankyou! It’s certainly no less than he deserves, and let’s hope future generations of Tom’s may one day soon be automatically granted full acceptance across all areas in life, and not limited by people who should know better. I have a friend, Elizabeth who is DS and about to celebrate her 61st birthday. She has worked, married,been involved with the local church and WI and has a son and two beautiful grandchildren. Not a lot in life has held her back, encouraged by her then very forward thinking mother who believed, like you, that her child deserved nothing other than the very best opportunities in life. I have felt your pain when you have been up against the wall with bureaucracy, and also your joy with Tom’s achievements. Your latest blog is just terrific and totally heartwarming. You are an inspiration. Please accept my sincere wishes for Tom’s future…..what an exciting time. Best wishes also to you, Dan, Joe and Maddie.
    Linda. xxx

  24. Teresa Burrows July 31, 2017 at 2:32 pm -  Reply

    Hi Clare. You must be so proud of your boy and what he has managed to achieve. He always looks so happy and full of fun.But you and your family have supported him so well and that is the answer to his success,you cannot beat a good and caring family.At times it can’t have been easy but you have got through it.Your lovely personality shines through on QVC for all to see. Tom is a lucky young man to have you as his mum x

  25. Maxine Mewis July 31, 2017 at 2:37 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire, it was so lovely to read your blog about your son Tom. I too have a son with special needs and he has also just graduated from school. My son (Jake) attends a specialist autistic school and I almost burst with pride when he received his first official AQA Certificate at his leavers assembly. When he was first diagnosed at 3, our elderly neighbour pushed a card through our door which read: God only gives the special children to special people, because he knows they’ll do the best job. And judging by the way you talk about him and the smile on your sons lovely face, I would say she was right 🙂 good luck for the future
    Maxine xx

  26. Judith lennon July 31, 2017 at 4:00 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire
    Like moist of the people on this blog I too have followed Tom’s growing up. You should be so very proud of him and of yourselves to doing what parents do – their very best for their children. What a credit he is to you and so handsome. I am sure he will go from strength to strength through his life. It’s amazing with the right people around you their confidence just grows. Well done Tom and well done you!!
    Judith xx

  27. Brenda July 31, 2017 at 8:17 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire, how delightful for your Tom to have a lovely Prom. I had no idea you had a Downs son, oh what a perfect mum for him! I’m a special needs nurse, but with older peeps. You are a star! Every good wish for all your lovely family, Brenda xx

  28. Maureen July 31, 2017 at 8:30 pm -  Reply

    AQAS can be just as difficult as GCSEs, well done Tom. You look lovely just like your mom
    Best of luck for all you do in the future.

  29. Christel July 31, 2017 at 8:35 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire what a beautiful boy Tom is and you have every right to be proud of him.With you and the rest of his family whatever he does next will be a huge success.It warmed my heart and made me cry a bit to see the video of Tom collecting his certificate.I wish you and Tom the very best that life has to offer.
    Christel xx

  30. Karen Gavin July 31, 2017 at 8:48 pm -  Reply

    Congratulations Tom! My son Matthew with DS + asd, with severe learning difficulty and requires 1:1 care 24/7, has also just graduated from his special needs school. Big wide world, here they come!

  31. Georgina Bancroft July 31, 2017 at 9:02 pm -  Reply

    So chuffed for Tom and wishing him lots more fun and learning in this next exciting chapter. You have been blessed, I too have a son with special needs and he amazes me daily. I was not lucky in finding a school suitable for him so we homeschooled, exhausting but fun. Good job you are a strong Mum who would not settle for anything less than what Tom needed and deserved xxx

  32. Patricia August 1, 2017 at 3:58 am -  Reply

    Hi Claire it was lovely to see the photos of you Tom and how grown up he looks and you right felty so proud of him. My youngest brother went to a special school, my mum was very against it and cried everyday for the first month, then when she saw how happy he was she did come round a bit. What disability has he got I hear you asking well he is dyslexic. These days he would be in main stream education but he makes up for this in so many ways. He is the kindest person I know has a fantastic sense of humour and his nephew and nieces adore him. I know my mum was concerned that he would get labelled and it would follow him the rest of his life. Well. He was 50 this year and has worked ever since he left college. I can appreciate that it’s rather daunting when your child has to take on something new but I am sure that Tom will take every new opportunity in his stride knowing he has the love and support of this family behind him.

  33. Margaret Lawton August 1, 2017 at 11:47 am -  Reply

    What a lovely post Claire and congratulations and a huge well done to Tom thanks for sharing his amazing story xxxx

  34. Angela August 1, 2017 at 12:55 pm -  Reply

    This post made me cry!!! You are such an inspiration and you deserve to feel extremely proud of Tom. You and your husband’s hard work has paid off. Well done to Tom, you and the rest of your family. Hope things go from strength to strength in the future.

  35. Cheryl August 1, 2017 at 12:57 pm -  Reply

    Congrats. I know only too well how much difference the school makes to a child with additional needs. My son is now in college a year older than Tom. He has different issues but needed alot of support. I was told in year 7 he would never sit an exam. Lucky for him that teacher left and a fantastic new SENCO arrived and decided to give Alex all the help he needed , even at his worst she work through it. He left school with 6 GCSE in science and maths mainly and as I said is now in college doing science courses. Each new challenge has to be met head on but given the right support all children can achieve. Best of luck to you. I also have two other children so it’s always a juggling match. However the eldest is now 25 and getting married.

  36. Kay August 2, 2017 at 4:58 pm -  Reply

    What a beautiful blog . As many whom have already said we have followed from your pregnancy till this very day . All three children shine from the wonderful parenting . From both of you as mum and dad . Each has made with your continued fight to make Toms future a balanced and thus far fulfilled one . His siblings too are such a wonderful testament to parents that care and very much love their children as it comes through in their relationships between each other . Be well and take note that so many people love watching your life and achievements and also the beautiful Lady that we see present on QVC . Stay Healthy, Happy and your bubbly self .

  37. Mrs Ann Booth August 3, 2017 at 3:32 pm -  Reply

    Hi Clare, it was so lovely to see Tom at his graduation. What a fine young man he is, you must be so proud. I remember when he was born and Joe and Maddie too. I hope he has a successful future and it is all down to you and your husband. Keep being your bubbly self on Qvc it is always a pleasure to watch you.

  38. Jelena August 3, 2017 at 5:31 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire, and congratulations to you all on Tom graduating – how very, very special! Onwards and upwards to the next exciting chapter, for that remarkable young man!

  39. Maria August 4, 2017 at 10:31 am -  Reply

    Hi Claire, Wow! What an amazing blog. A big Congratulations to Tom for all his achievements at school and wishing him all the best I College! You are and have been a great inspiration to parents with children with special needs, knowing that we are not alone fighting the battles and obstacles that we have to face throughout our children’s life! I have gone through my journey with my son always thinking “Believe and we can Achieve!” and ” No matter how hard Today is Tomorrow will always be better!” God bless you and your wonderful famliy, take care Maria x?

  40. Christine August 5, 2017 at 7:37 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire congratulations to Tom you should be proud of him. I am sure what he does next will be look after by his family. Like the car.
    Take care X

  41. Seelyb August 6, 2017 at 8:04 pm -  Reply

    This was such a lovely blog to read. If all schools were like this one we could be truly proud of the comprehensive system in this country. Sadly they are in the minority but should be the blueprint for others to follow. I know that Tom will go from strength to strength and achieve whatever he wants to, even if it takes him a bit longer – and what does that matter? Sending him the best of wishes for his next ventures.

  42. Eileen Archibald August 15, 2017 at 7:48 am -  Reply

    Oh Claire, I have read your beautiful post with tears streaming down my face (sorry). Such a wonderful time for you all and Tom’s school and friends seem to be the best. It is great you have been able to let Tom spread his wings and be the best person possible and I wish him and you all the very best for his future.
    My friend’s son is DS and is now 46 years old I do so wish they had been able to see such a fulfilling life for him but unfortunately they have wrapped him in cotton wool and we fear for his future as we all get older.

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