October 24 2014 Latest news:
by Harriet Orrell, Reporter
Friday, August 29, 2014
A young campaigner for Down’s syndrome appeared on a popular comedy chat show last week following a twitter storm ignited by Richard Dawkins.
James Hamilton, of Widecombe Close, Harold Hill, has Down syndrome’s and featured on Channel 4’s The Last Leg as part of a discussion of the atheist professor’s controversial views on the abortion of Down’s syndrome babies.
Last week Richard Dawkins tweeted that pregnant women carrying a foetus which has been diagnosed with Down’s syndrome should “abort it and try again” as it would be “immoral to bring it into the world if you have a choice”.
James’ father, Philip Hamilton, said: “When I saw that Richard Dawkins had said children with Down’s syndrome should be terminated I wondered how many people he knew that had the disorder and knew the quality of life, the fun and great pleasure they bring to others.”
Richard Dawkins has since apologised for the offence caused by his words, although stands by his reasoning.
As a young ambassador for Mencap, co-chair of the Havering Learning Disability Team and a performer in the 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony, 25-year-old James is very active raising awareness of Down syndrome and other disabilities.
He has also helped Mencap launch their Look Beyond the Label campaign which challenges the negative perceptions society can have of people with a learning disability and celebrates their achievements.
However he is struggling to find paid work.
Mr Hamilton, said: “James has been looking for a job in an office but that is hard for someone without a disability and so much harder for someone who has one.
“He is such an outgoing individual that it seems incredible that no one wants to give him a small part time job.
“He went to a main stream school and moved out of our house six years ago and now lives independently.”
Down’s syndrome is a genetic disorder which affects around one in every 1,000 babies born in the UK and has a life expectancy of 50 to 60 years.