Mum launches firm to support those with learning difficulties after success with Down’s syndrome son Barry

Ex matron Mary Hunt with son, Barry Ward, is launching a community interest company to help support

Ex matron Mary Hunt with son, Barry Ward, is launching a community interest company to help support people with down syndrome and their family There's been talk in the media about down syndrome and whether its ethical to eradicate it, and this lady has some strong views because her son has the condition, on Monday at Beyea Healthcare, Westerfield House, Westerfield business centre, Westerfield Road, Ipswich, - Credit: Archant

A registered nurse is launching a community interest company to support people with Down’s syndrome and similar conditions after the experiences her son.

Barry Hunt as a child

Barry Hunt as a child - Credit: Archant

Mary Hunt, 56, who is also a company director as well as a healthcare professional, was spurred into action after the experiences of her 31-year-old son Barry, who has Down’s syndrome.

A recent documentary by actress Sally Phillips has brought the issue of Down’s syndrome into the spotlight again, which Ms Hunt admitted had brought back “lots of happy memories and also some terribly sad memories.”

Ms Hunt was 26 when she gave birth to Barry in 1985, and said her experience had been difficult because of the lack of support from healthcare services and the strain it placed on her marriage.

“I was put into a side room in a state of shock. The midwife came back with Barry and said ‘you have got a beautiful little boy but he is not quite normal.’

“But he is perfectly normal, he is normal for a Down’s syndrome child.”

Ms Hunt also knows people who have been pressured or persuaded into having an abortion following a noninvasive prenatal test (NIPT) which is offered between 10 and 12 weeks pregnancy to see whether an unborn child is likely to have a condition such as Down’s.

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“No one was a right to tell an individual they should abort, regardless of what type of baby they are having, they should be helped to find out what they are taking on and if it is right for them,” Ms Hunt added.

“The people who will decide to carry on with the pregnancy, that child will have amazing parents.”

And for Barry, his condition has left him vulnerable on various occasions, including having been the victim of sexual abuse, robbery and has been locked in a shed.

And having experienced first hand the difficulties sufferers of the syndrome can face with weight, independence and health problems, the Barry’s Journey community interest company will support people with healthy-eating recipes, fitness and other individual needs.

Ms Hunt said: “Barry was very slim up to his early 20s, but doctors do tell you the health problems they can get.

“In October 2013 I took him on holiday, and because of the heat he could hardly walk. He was 14 stone and had a threatened heart attack twice. I took him to Slimming World and he lost two-and-a-half stone – that’s when I came up with Barry’s Journey.”

Ms Hunt has tied up with DW Fitness to run dedicated fitness sessions for syndrome sufferers and those with learning needs, while the Barry’s recipes arm of the company will help people become more independent being able to cook their own meals and eat healthily.

“Barry is prone to heart conditions, diabetes, and early onset Alzheimer’s – I cannot stop that.

“But I can enable Barry’s health to be better, and he is loving it.”

To find out more or to support the cause visit, or call 01473 212205.