Downs & Proud celebrates its 10th birthday

Jay Beatty with Celtic manager and Lurgan native Neil Lennon
Jay Beatty with Celtic manager and Lurgan native Neil Lennon

It was Christmas 2003 and the Beatty family were given the best present ever, wee Jay.

Now 10 years later the family are celebrating his life and the anniversary of Downs and Proud, set up to inspire those touched by Downs Syndrome.

Jay being interviewed by Sky TV

Jay being interviewed by Sky TV

Parents Martin and Aine Beatty were told on December 23 that their new baby Jay had Downs Syndrome but later that night they were informed that Jay also had a serious heart condition.

He was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital’s specialist Clarke Clinic for surgery.

“From the moment we heard of the heart issue, the Down Syndrome meant nothing. It was not a concern. Our only concern was to ensure that Jay lived,” said 
dad Martin.

The Beatty family spent six months in the Clarke clinic were Jay went through surgery to repair a hole in his heart. This gave the family time to think about what lay ahead for Jay and how they could ensure Jay would have the same chances in life as every other child.

Jay Beatty

Jay Beatty

Martin said: “We agreed from the start we would make sure that Jay would not be discriminated in any shape or form and we would try and raise as much awareness about Down Syndrome as possible.”

Now ten years later, Jay has become an inspirational figure for many. He has been headline news in many newspapers and featured on TV.

And he certainly is well known as an avid Celtic fan, and through his love of all things Celtic, he has become an internet star.

All along the way he has helped raise so much awareness and money for the local charity, Downs and Proud.

April 5 is the annual Downs Syndrome awareness day and night at the Woodville Arms in Lurgan.

This year all the cash raised will be going to the local charity Downs and Proud, set up by Jay’s mum Aine.

Downs and Proud started off as a few mothers having coffee once a month and has flourished into a fully fledged charity with nearly 30 children as members. And it is still going from strength 
to strength.

“We set out to ensure that Jay would be treated the same as every other child but little did we know that would be turned on its head,” said Martin. “We are very proud of Downs & Proud which is now a thriving community who have all been touched in some way by Downs 
Syndrome. We are proud of what we have achieved and most importantly, proud of our children. They 
continue to inspire us and others around them 
every day.”