The Mall at Cribbs Causeway's ice rink staff give Derek Almond and his family a Christmas to remember

Gazette Series: Six-year-old Adam Almond with his mum Laura at The Mall's ice skating rink Six-year-old Adam Almond with his mum Laura at The Mall's ice skating rink

CHRISTMAS has come early for the family of a six-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome who was able to take to the ice for the very first time, thanks to a young member of staff at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway.

Adam Almond usually has to watch as his two older brothers Joe, 13, and Christopher, 11, and younger sister Alice, 5, get their skates on during a festive day out to the ice rink as the youngster cannot walk due to lack of muscle tone. But this year, the family from Weston-super-Mare were in for a shock when they queued to pay for dad Derek and the three other children’s session.

“We are a little bit jaded now because we know what the answer will be if we ask for anything for Adam,” said Mr Almond. “We normally hear the same health and safety excuses but the lady behind the ticket office at The Mall said what about your wife and the little boy, pointing to Adam. We explained he couldn’t sit very well by himself so wouldn’t be able to use one of the children’s aids provided but another member of staff came over and said he could take Adam out in his wheelchair for 15 minutes.

“Then this young girl, Beccy Higgins, came and pushed Adam round on the ice for the full hour session.”

Mr Almond and his wife Laura watched on in amazement as the staff went out of their way to give their son an experience he hasn’t stopped talking about since.

“Beccy pushed him round and round, but kept checking where we were and that Adam was okay. He was waving and shouting ‘I’m flying, I’m flying’ just like in the film Titanic and asking to go faster and faster. He was absolutely buzzing from it.

"We try not to do things Adam can’t do but we also recognise we have three other children who need to do things and we shouldn’t restrict them in any way. This was just amazing, and Beccy then took pictures of us all in the middle of the ice rink.

“She never once made us feel like she was inconvenienced, it was just a really natural thing for her. You hear a lot about the youth of today but this girl, with no life experience to know how what she did affected us as a family, was being nice just for the sake of being nice.”

Mr Almond later posted a thank you message on The Mall’s Facebook page and within hours had received more than 4,000 likes and hundreds of comments from people touched by the story.

“It went crazy,” he said. “I didn’t put the post on for any kind of attention, I am quite a cynical old man but got a really nice feeling from the whole thing and merely wanted to say thank you.

“Our family has been humbled by the response. It is nice it has touched so many people and I want people to know you can go somewhere with children with different needs, that is what we call it rather than special needs, and somebody cares enough to do something about it.”

He added: “The only sad thing about it is it is unusual. It would be lovely if I didn’t have to say thank you, if it was just the norm, but maybe other companies will adopt the same attitude.”

In a reply on Facebook, Beccy wrote: “It was so wonderful to meet you and your family, Derek. I could not be happier right now, I haven't smiled so much in quite a while.

“You and your family deserved to have a great day, and I am overwhelmed that my colleagues and I were able to do that for you.”

Comments (1)

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1:51pm Sat 7 Dec 13

Monnowman says...

A heartening story, all the better because it describes Adam as a "boy with Down's Syndrome" rather than "a Down's Syndrome boy".
A heartening story, all the better because it describes Adam as a "boy with Down's Syndrome" rather than "a Down's Syndrome boy". Monnowman

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