Tom turns 17 and takes to the wheel


As I write the garden is bathed in sunshine , the washing is gently blowing on the line and all is well with the world!

How are you all, more to the point? I’m hoping that this spell of warmth has lifted the spirits and boosted morale as it has done for me. I could have told you the sun would shine this Bank Holiday as it pretty much always does when Tom’s birthday comes around, just as it did 17 years ago when he was born. It’s official I now have a 17 year old!

I was ridiculously excited leading up to the day probably because Tom is always counting down the sleeps and so it ensures a brilliant build up – honestly it’s so refreshing and you end up absorbing his happiness. He was telling all and sundry about his imminent birthday and my phone was pinging daily with his ‘birthday wish list’. Maddie was a trouper sourcing things, wrapping up and squirrelling them away until the morning came – ‘May the 4th be with you’ Star Wars Day… as he calls his birthday!

He has made us laugh so much with his chat, if you’re interested I’m on Twitter @clairesuttonqvc and Instagram is clairesuttontv. I often post bits and bobs about Tom and us all and when I read out all the wonderful messages he had received from so many of you through Twitter and Instagram he was very happy, as was I.

We had the loveliest of weekends celebrating with family and with friends here are some photos including Tom’s burger cake… the most brilliant cake I have ever seen made for him by Becca at Baking Bad and it tasted divine too, all handmade, such a work of art, but eat it we did!

One of the hugest highlights of the birthday had to be… TOM HAD A DRIVING LESSON! I know, I know… and breathe…it’s OK it wasn’t on the road, he will never manage to take his test and drive so this was a truly amazing experience. Let’s face it when your son turns 17, one of the first things he would want to do would be to have a driving lesson…and one of my hardest conversations was telling Tom that because he has Downs Syndrome it wouldn’t happen for him. This was so hard as my normal response is I WILL make that happen, somehow. Well, incredibly it did.

I had been told about Young Driver, a fabulous set-up where young people from 5 to 17 years get behind the wheel and start the process of learning about the car and the road, which is just so clever as surely then by the time they ARE able to learn, they are far more capable, ready and let’s hope sensible on the roads. The most awesome part of this is the inclusive attitude they have for young adults with special needs, HALLELUJAH, in capital letters and underlined in pink…! I was super excited to book Tom in for a birthday Lesson.

Andy was Tom’s instructor at Brent Cross, though they run courses and lessons in multiple places round the UK. He was patient, supportive and kind. Dan, Joe, Maddie and I watched with bated breath as Tom navigated his vauxhall around the course, mastering steering, whilst waving at us (under Andy’s instruction). He even got the biting point – gosh who remembers that when they learnt? Even when he accelerated and zoomed along (for what seemed like an eternity, dramatic panic stricken mother that I am) he was completely safe as Andy had dual controls in the car.

He was proud, I was proud. It was honestly such a moment to treasure and I would so recommend them. In fact Maddie is already asking if she can go along , she will without a doubt be behind a wheel as soon as she is old enough and with Young Driver I reckon she can be better prepared when that time comes. In the meantime I think I had better hide my car keys after Tom’s success on Saturday!

This beautiful weather has brought on my cut flower border no end and I need to get some supports pronto for my new plants to give them a helping hand. I was happy to see I will be on air doing a three- hour show on Monday 14th at 9am with Richard Jackson and loads of our lovely gardening guests. There’s no room left in my bed that’s for sure, it’s somewhat overfilled already but Flower Power will be most needed to ensure the health of my babies! I’m loving checking them daily and noticing the alliums bursting out of their pods and my wisteria drizzling down the wall…it’s all about the small things sometimes isn’t it?

Hydration aplenty as the weather heats up and I’m loving my new water bottles. I fell in love with them in the Morning Show and boom they are part of my everyday life now, along with the Zooki Omega 3 fish oils and Imedeen I have just embarked upon. I’m looking forward to seeing and feeling the results.

I thought as I have been practising for the Moonwalk this Saturday anything for joint health would be much needed. Maddie and I and a group of lovely ladies from my village will be setting off through the night on the 12th, raising much needed funds to continue the fight for Breast Cancer. In fact I’m off out later to decorate my bra…as you do!

My gorgeous friend Amanda who has just completed her treatment for Breast Cancer visited over the Bank Holiday and brought me the most beautiful gift…we both are trying to be kinder to ourselves and trying to appreciate the moment if you know what I mean. So this exquisitely made set of Chakras blew my mind. It’s all about mindfulness and I’m hoping taking a moment to focus on these areas will bring untold peace and calm. Let’s see if I can tune into them…any help gratefully received! ( I know which is which, it’s just connecting to them I could do with help with.) I sent her off with Hairfix to see if her new hair can grow just that little bit quicker into a pixie crop which she will totally rock.

Oh and word is the the Vio-lit Glow Primer from Bareminerals our Beauty Pick of the Month is disappearing swiftly. What with the gently sunkissed faces we have after the weekend it will make your skin even more radiant, but without the tin man too shiny look. And you don’t look purple I hasten to add, just fabulous, a là SJ Froom who has been busily and beautifully showing us at QVC all the how tos – if you’d love it hurry hurry!

Right as I have just paid for our summer holiday (gulp) I’m just going to search the web for the lovely Pia Rossini white long cover-up I spotted on a shoot the other day and the lovely Pia Rossini Big Deal this week is rather tempting, (you know how I love a pom pom) oh and I must check my Ultrasun stocks with all this lovely weather. Hmmmm, I’m quite sure there will be rather more than that hop into my basket after all it is Accessories Month this May.

Happy shopping, happy gardening and happy May everyone.

Lots of love from a happy Claire xxx


  1. Dee May 11, 2018 at 1:53 pm -  Reply

    what a brilliant thing for Tom to experience, although it does sound like you’ll be taking the others sooner rather than later – that cake is the best I’ve ever seen, amazing

  2. Susan May 11, 2018 at 7:14 pm -  Reply

    Happy birthday Tom! 17?! How on earth?! He’s so handsome claire. I’m glad you’re feeling well and your lovely friend is coming through her treatment. Good luck for the walk. Illness is everywhere isn’t it. So hard to cope with it in amongst the rest of life and working. Cope we must though!
    Where have you booked for your holiday this year? Your last year’s photos were lovely from Corfu xx

  3. Claire May 11, 2018 at 7:47 pm -  Reply

    This was so lovely to read – glad Tom had a fab birthday, and what a cake!

  4. Carol Crosbie May 12, 2018 at 3:19 pm -  Reply

    Fabulous happy birthday Tom x

  5. Chris May 12, 2018 at 3:21 pm -  Reply

    Happy birthday Tom. Great to see he had the opportunity to experience driving car, he didn’t same fazed at all.

  6. Eileen May 12, 2018 at 5:04 pm -  Reply

    We’ll done Tom IHope you enjoyed your day xx

  7. Diane May 12, 2018 at 8:12 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire & Happy 17th Tom, Star Wars day is an amazing day to have your Birthday!
    Thank you for sharing the info regarding the driving, unfortunately my Daughter wouldn’t be able to manage this but I am going to pass on the details to a friend of mine who’s son is more robust like Tom.
    My Daughter did drive that ‘Little Tykes’ car though, it was a firm favourite, she also had a little house, one of our favourite photos of her is of her peeking out & was published in an awareness booklet for parents/families.
    All of us have been touched by cancer in some way, your story of your friend is very touching & the chakras are a wonderful idea, I am sure her hair will look fabulous, good luck with the Moonwalk your bra will look fabulous!
    I have the Vio-lit primer and I look forward to trying it tomorrow SJ explains everything so well, the bottle also looks good, so handy.
    I am on Instagram so I shall follow on there.
    Love Diane x

  8. Elaine McDonald May 12, 2018 at 11:39 pm -  Reply

    Happy birthday to To . My 12 year old son had one of these driving lessons for his 12th birthday. He has autism, a learning disability and other health issues and it was just so nice to see him so happy. I understand totally how you must’ve felt. Incredibly Proud ??

  9. Jasmin May 15, 2018 at 10:58 pm -  Reply

    Your post made me smile. Tom looks such a happy and capable young man and must bring you great joy. I am so glad he got to drive and reach a milestone most 17 year olds take for granted.My son ,16 has befriended a lad with Downs in our village who is 10. With one of his mates they take him to the park or watch a film with him to give his parents a break but also because they love his company and his very original view of the world. We all have a place in this world, it just takes some of us a bit more effort to find it. God Bless.

  10. Claire Sutton May 22, 2018 at 3:23 pm -  Reply

    Jasmine- now that has truly made me smile- I can’t tell you the difference that will be making to him and to his parents, more sons like yours please!!! Bravo xxxx

  11. Claire Sutton May 22, 2018 at 3:25 pm -  Reply

    Dee, it tasted brilliant too- as good as it looked!
    Joe in no hurry but Maddie.. chomping at the bit! Xx

  12. Claire Sutton May 22, 2018 at 3:27 pm -  Reply

    Hi Susan,
    Mexico for us this year, tho I’m a bit worried as Tom announced he hated the sun… oops!!! Crazy boy! He will be fine , hat on, swimming pool and new people to meet !
    Take Care Susan xx

  13. Claire Sutton May 22, 2018 at 3:28 pm -  Reply

    Thanks Claire, a happy time for sure xx

  14. Claire Sutton May 22, 2018 at 3:29 pm -  Reply

    Thankyou for your Birthday Wishes, he does love to ask who else has wished him HBirthday!!! So Thankyou x

  15. Claire Sutton May 22, 2018 at 3:31 pm -  Reply

    He amazes us Chris, really does take it all in his stride as you say – I’m so lucky as some friends I have with a child with DS find changes tricky – he zipped around!
    Claire xx

  16. Claire Sutton May 22, 2018 at 3:32 pm -  Reply

    A brilliant day ( weekend!) was enjoyed for sure- Thankyou xx

  17. Claire Sutton May 22, 2018 at 3:41 pm -  Reply

    I’m so glad your friend may enjoy the drive experience- yup can’t beat the little Tykes cars can you?! Such lovely happy memories-
    Hoping you’ve enjoyed the delicate enhancement the primer gives- it’s just enough I feel.
    College meetings this week for Tom, we keep on trying to find the best things we can dont we for them and just pray we are making the right decisions …
    Tom’s just off spending his birthday £ today, without me controlling him!!! Let’s see what he returns with ..
    much love xxx

  18. Claire Sutton May 22, 2018 at 3:43 pm -  Reply

    There was also a chap with cerebral palsy and a young lad with autism when we were there- such a special thing to do – proud mummas we are for sure aren’t we! Xx

  19. Hester Tulloch May 23, 2018 at 9:36 am -  Reply

    Tom has been so blessed to have been born to yourself and Dan who treat him like the young adult he is and not someone who has no opinion worth listening to, I lost my son who had special needs in 2003 he was 34 and suddenly died of septicaemia. Treasure your family xx

  20. Michelle Coley May 23, 2018 at 9:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire, huge congratulations to Tom
    On his 17th Birthday ! My son is also 17 this year in August. I hope Tom enjoyed his driving, have you ever considered a driving experience for him , my son is doing his work experience with a company who do driving experiences & have a junior track (not only for juniors but anyone who hasn’t passed their test – it must be very frustrating for Tom knowing he wouldn’t be able to drive & this would give him the opportunity to drive other prestige cars……..(also dual control)……… My son 1st drove with them when he was 12 ………………. Please feel free to contact me if you would like some more information xxx

  21. Claire Sutton July 2, 2018 at 8:27 am -  Reply

    My heart breaks reading about your son, you have told me about him before, it is unimaginable how painful it must be . You are very brave and you understand our life I know…much love to you xxx

  22. Claire Sutton July 2, 2018 at 8:31 am -  Reply

    Michelle that is so kind,
    Huge apologies not to have see your comment , the blog rolls on and unless I look back I can miss it.
    What a great experience that would be, if you have a moment then it would be wonderful to know some details is my e mail address.
    Huge thanks ,
    Claire xx

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Cast your vote!

Never miss a post!

Sign up to our QGossip feed to get the latest posts in your mailbox.

QVC uses first and third party cookies to enhance your use of this website and provide you with a personalised browsing experience. We do so in accordance with our Privacy Statement and our Cookie Policy. To learn more and change your preferences click here. By actively continuing to use this website, closing this banner or clicking the OK button below, you consent to our use of cookies.

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.