Column: Institutions were not for children

Our new columnists are all proving popular with readers as each brings their own particular views to our pages.

Eilidh Patterson's dad David chronicles her adventures in his monthly column in The Falkirk Herald

I can certainly testify that faced with a blank screen it’s not always the easiest thing to come up with something that you think will interest a cross-section of our community.

But well done to them all, they’ve never let us down yet!

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I admire Mandie Stevenson and Emma Muldoon’s strength of character, Stuart Barber often makes me laugh – see this weeks’ page 36 for his take on building flat-pack furniture, while Dave Patterson’s writing about his daughter Eilidh has moved me to tears.

His honesty about the emotions he and wife Lynn felt when their little one was born and they were told she had Down’s Syndrome are commendable.

The insight into how they’ve coped over the last four years are candid and fascinating.

Like all our columnists, I eagerly open his emails to read the next instalment of Eilidh’s journey.

However, it struck me recently that it’s not so many years ago that family’s like the Pattersons where encouraged to put a child with Down Syndrome in an institution.

Facilities like the former Royal Scottish National Hospital at Larbert were home to many – and sadly many were placed there to be forgotten.

One of our colleagues has a child with Down’s Syndrome and whenever he visits the office our day is brightened.

The very idea of children like him or Eilidh being placed in an institution is abhorrent.

Thank goodness we live in enlightened times.