Oliver Hellowell – Photographer with Down Syndrome

Last summer, Wendy O’Carroll was kind enough to share with us this post about her son, Oliver, who is an incredibly talented professional photographer.

August 10th 2020 and I awake to the day that my son Oliver’s book, ‘Oliver’s Britain’, is published.

We are surrounded by boxes and teetering piles of beautiful books, along with rolls of brown paper, bubble wrap and cardboard book wrappers alongside weighing scales and labels. I smile as I wonder how many bacon sandwiches it is going to take to encourage Oliver to sign all these for his eager fans and how it really doesn’t dawn on him at all just how amazing an achievement this is.

I am momentarily transported back to that little room at the end of the maternity ward, the room I was moved into, away from all those other mums, after my baby had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Oh how I wept, as I held and rocked my baby, with my magnificent stained glass window of dreams shattered and broken into a million unfixable pieces all over the floor of my life. My vision of the future so sad, so grey, so heartbroken.

How wrong can a person be?! Here I am today, 24 years later, with a young man who is quite simply the light of my days. He brings a smile to my face more times than I can count, and is enjoyed, valued and loved by all those who are fortunate enough to know and spend time with him.

He is a professional landscape and wildlife photographer and has over 65,000 followers on facebook. He has a website through which we receive orders for his prints, books, calendars, cards etc from literally all over the world. He has a huge following in the US and just this last week we have posted copies of his latest book to 15 different states over there, as well as to Canada, Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Spain, Scotland, Wales, Northern and southern Ireland, and more counties in England than I can count. He has had numerous short films made about him and appeared live on BBC’s The One Show twice, as well as BBC’s Countryfile. He was commissioned by Tennessee Tourism to capture the Smoky Mountains National Park in his own unique style, and in 2015 won the UK National Diversity Award for most Positive Role Model for Disability. This book ‘Oliver’s Britain’ is his third book to be published – Is this not the stuff of dreams ?!?!!

Not bad for a young man who as a baby was so poorly it was thought he wouldn’t survive long enough to undergo his open heart surgery at 3 months, and for whom the early years and then childhood, were filled with doom laden predictions from various professionals, who between them described him as a boy who because of additional difficulties including verbal dyspraxia, severe hypotonia, ADHD and challenging behaviour, would never be able to take part in any kind of sporting activity, would never manage speech which would be understood by an unfamiliar listener, and who would be impossible to include in a mainstream school or society.

Shall I describe the skateboarding teenager who would request quite specifically and clearly, a Subaru Imprezza and a Bugatti Veyron for his birthday? Or shall we just leave it as enough to say he blasted all those predictions clear off the planet?

Oliver has been fortunate enough to be blessed with a fabulous big sister, and a stepfather who was clearly destined to be his father and is far superior to the biological father who left him as a young child. He is also surrounded by close friends and supporters, and extended family who are all extremely precious to him.

I’m not saying life has been or is not currently without its challenges and differences – but hey – isn’t that what parenting is all about? The secret is simple Enjoy every bloomin’ moment (And Oliver says – also to eat bacon!)

Follow Oliver on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram

Oliver has recently launched a range of greeting cards – available to purchase along with his books and prints on his website www.oliverhellowell.com.