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Man With Down’s Syndrome Proves His Capability Chasing Scaffolder Dream

February 25, 2022

The mother of a man with Down’s syndrome who is studying to become a scaffolder said he had surpassed all expectations.

Vicky Scanlon said when her son was born she was told of “everything he wouldn’t be able to do”.

Now, Todd Scanlon, 32, from Swindon, is challenging perceptions and attending Weston Construction College where he is proving how capable he is.

“I’m really pleased for him and he’s proud of himself,” Ms Scanlon said.

The 56-year-old added: “I was only 24 when Todd was born, I was still young myself, and I found out after he was born that he had Down’s syndrome.

“My dad said to me ‘he’s got arms, he’s got legs, he’s got a voice, what more do you want?'”

She said that she has always been proud of her son, but did not expect him to have the career that he has.

“He has been on courses with work experience before but at the end of each course, there’s nothing really that comes out of it for people with disabilities,” she said.

With the help of his manager, Martyn Coles, of Coles scaffolding, and after 18 months of trying, Mr Scanlon was accepted onto the course.

“There have been so many hurdles because it’s so unique, no-one seemed to want to accept it was do-able [for someone with Down’s syndrome],” Mr Coles said.

“We got to a stage before lockdown where it felt like it was never going to happen and door after door being shut, but I said to him, ‘if you want to go somewhere, I’ll support you’.”

Following talks and an SEN assessment at Weston Construction College on 14 January, Mr Coles said “staff acknowledged Todd had the aptitude to do the scaffolding qualification and he was capable of moving forward”.

Mr Coles said: “Todd’s buzzing to be able to go to college and do this course and he just wants to become a scaffolder and wants what everyone does, the job and the pay packet.”

He has been advising the college as he explained with Todd, and anyone with additional needs, training methods need to be adapted to fit the person.

“It has been … a unique process as Todd is the only person we know of with Down’s syndrome working in construction [possibly] in the world, but definitely in the UK,” he said.

Massive difference

Mr Scanlon will complete the course at his own pace, with no deadline, and will receive one-to-one support to achieve his certified Construction Industry Scaffolding Record Scheme (CISRS) card and work towards his scaffolding NVQ.

Eventually he will become a fully-qualified scaffolder, something that would mean a lot to both him and Mr Coles.

Ms Scanlon praised the work Mr Coles has done to help her son.

“He’s made a massive difference in our lives and if one person reads this, and it makes them stop and think, and create an opportunity [for someone with additional needs], even if it’s a couple of hours a week, it’s a good thing in my eyes,” she said.

Mr Coles and Mr Scanlon will discuss work opportunities with the Swindon Downs Association on a webcast on 3 March.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kate Joseph permalink
    February 25, 2022 8:15 am

    Go Todd…what a fantastic guy…I hope you really enjoy your work.
    I’m starting up a holiday business where adults with learning disabilities get to tailor make the holidays they want with us and I will certainly see if there is anyone with a disability who wants a job with us too!..so thanks for the inspiration!
    And Mr Scanlon senior….what a great Dad!!!!! Kate

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