Amazing gesture for five-year-old with Down’s syndrome

By Robert Mann contact

- Last updated on GMT

Class act: pub staff and punters performed a sign-a-long for Oliver Callis, who has Down's syndrome
Class act: pub staff and punters performed a sign-a-long for Oliver Callis, who has Down's syndrome
Staff and regulars at a pub have learned a form of sign language so they can communicate with one of their loyal customers – a five-year-old with Down’s syndrome.

Staff and regulars at the Oaklands pub in Littleover, Derbyshire, came together to perform a “sign-a-long” for Oliver Callis, who has Down’s syndrome.

They used Makaton sign language, which combines signs, symbols and speech to help him communicate.

Dozens at the pub came together and delivered a sweet rendition of Oliver’s favourite song (Something Inside) So Strong​ by Labi Siffre.

Oliver, who is visually impaired, learned how to sign the 1990 pop classic at St Giles – Derby's only special primary school.

Noreen Tristram, who runs the Oaklands, owned by Heineken pub group Star Pubs & Bars, said she, as well as her staff and customers, have all got to grips with Makaton so that they can share stories with Oliver.

“Oliver and his family regularly visit the Oaklands and we wanted to be able to communicate with him better,” she said.

“He’s a lovely little boy and this is our way of doing something special.

"We’re the first pub in the East Midlands to become Makaton-friendly – and hopefully not the last.”

The Oaklands pub is one of only three in the UK which has Makaton-friendly accreditation and is the only pub in the East Midlands to be given the honour.

Anita Morrison, Oliver’s mum, says she posted a video of him singing his favourite tune on social media a few months ago and it was picked up by the Makaton charity, which shared it.

“A friend saw it and was in awe – she wanted to learn Makaton too,” she added.

Related topics: Star Pubs & Bars

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