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Down Syndrome NSW
Level 6/410 Church St, North Parramatta
9am-5pm Monday - Thursday
T: 9841 444


Friday, 20 August 2010

Alison Durham celebrates her 80th birthday

Ms Alison Durham turned 80 last week, and that's remarkable.  Happy birthday, Alison, and many congratulations.

This story in the Tenterfield Star tells why, and is accompanied by a fabulous photo.

Alison's birthday marks major milestone

CHRIS WALKER, Tenterfield Star, 18 Aug, 2010

FORMER Tenterfield resident Alison Durham celebrated her 80th birthday on Thursday, and is believed to be the oldest living person with Down syndrome in Australia.

Ms Durham grew up in Tenterfield and has outlived all her siblings. She moved from Tenterfield to Roseneath Nursing Home in Glen Innes early in 1976.

“She has been here for 34 years this year, and is a quiet lady, very gentle and very kind,” said Roseneath’s Recreation and Activities Officer Jennifer Rich.

“She has a set routine every day with each day’s activities.”

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that leads to delays in physical and intellectual development, and occurs in about one in every 800 live births.

When Ms Durham was born in 1930, the average life span for a person suffering Down syndrome was just nine years, putting into perspective the 80-year milestone.

Today, the average life expectancy for those suffering with Down syndrome has improved to the late 50s, but that remains more than 20 years less than the average life expectancy for the typical person.

It is possible Ms Durham is the second oldest surviving person with Down syndrome in the world. The 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of Records lists American Bert Holbrook as the record holder.

If Mr Holbrook is still alive today he will turn 82 this month.

Staff said Ms Durham loves a cup of tea and biscuits, and always hangs up her clothes before bed, ready for the next day.

Along with the nursing home staff, Ms Durham has been kept company by her community visitor Lyn Dwyer for a number of years.

1 comment:

anna exley said...

How things have changed for our children with Down Syndrome. My mother was 80 years old last week and she too grew up in Tenterfield. When I showed this story about Alison Durham to my mother she said she certainly knew of Durham families in Tenterfield but was never aware of a child her same age with Downs Syndrome.