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The 2009 Family Weekend was a success

Sue Edwards, coordinator of the TAR Syndrome Support Group reports:

On the 31st October – 1st November 2009 we held our bi-annual family weekend at the Holiday Inn in Coventry. It was well attended by families from the UK and Europe. Our speaker this year was Andy Cook from Canine Partners. He brought along ’Frodo’ – a very clever Labrador who does demonstrations for their organisation.


Frodo showed us all how he opens cupboards, takes washing out of the washing machine, switches light switches on and off, helps with dressing/undressing, lifts and lowers wheelchair footplates and picks things up for his owner. Andy explained how each dog’s training is adapted to suit the exact requirements of the client. For example, in the case of a client with TAR Syndrome the dogs can be trained to reach light switches, lift buttons etc by lifting up onto their hind legs. They can also be trained to help their client up from the floor if they fall over. They can even put credit cards into machines but, we were reliably informed that they cannot read or steal pin numbers!! Frodo was a great success and very popular with the group especially the children!  

We then split into workshops. The adults attended a workshop on disability finances, the young people attended a discussion on bullying and the very young children attended a creche. Feedback from the workshops was very positive with everyone feeling that they had learned something new that they did not know about before. In the evening we had a meal during which the raffle was called followed by a disco/kareoke. The kareoke was so popular that there wasn’t time to fit in everyone who had put their name down to sing! The teenagers and twenty somethings managed to stay up most of the night on Friday and Saturday and reported that they had enjoyed the weekend very much.  

On Sunday morning we held our AGM which was very well attended. There was a financial report and some discussion about things the group might do next. Pete Williams from the Thalidomide Society attended again this year and all of the families felt that his presence was very helpful as he had so many tips to offer about independent living in adulthood. He brought along gadgets to show the group and spent a lot of time with the teenagers and young adults offering support and advice.  

During the AGM we discussed furthering our links with the Thalidomide Society as they have shown an interest in linking up more closely with our group. This was felt by the families to be a positive development. Following the AGM many members of the group took turns to sit in James Toland’s adapted car and try out the controls. Many parents of the younger children reported that they found this very helpful as it enabled them to visualise their own child driving one day no matter how severely they were affected by TAR Syndrome.  

Before leaving after lunch on Sunday the group members filled in feedback forms. The comments they made were very positive. If you would like to know more about attending the support group family days, please get in touch. You would be given a very warm welcome.

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