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Relatively Speaking: U105 presenter Ivan Martin and his son James

By Karen Ireland

U105 presenter Ivan Martin and his son James, who has Down's Syndrome, have been making a Big Step Forward this festive season to help Mencap's special appeal for a new centre. They live in Belfast.

Name: Ivan Martin

Age: 62

Occupation: Radio presenter

Relationship to James: Father

I never look at my son James and think "There's James and he has Down's Syndrome". I just think "There's James". It has always been that way.

He is a very special young man. When he was born and we were told he had Down's Syndrome we were completely shocked and overwhelmed. But then the business of having a new baby just took over - James had all the same needs as every other baby.

I am very blessed, as my wife Suzanne and I have two amazing sons. James is very close to his younger brother Daniel (20); they share a lot of the same interests and spend a lot of time together. Daniel is at Queen's University studying economics.

James is a remarkable young man and I admire him so much. He has never let his disability hold him back. He is an ambassador for Mencap and he has spoken at the European Parliament and to the Assembly at Stormont.

He recently received a certificate from the Justice Minister, David Ford, for his work with barristers and solicitors in teaching them how to work with people with learning difficulties and disabilities.

James comes to the football with me every Saturday and when I am stuck in the Press box filing copy he will go to the post-match press conference for me and record it so I don't miss anything.

James makes a guest appearance on my U105 radio show every Father's Day and Christmas Day. The boys open their presents in the morning and then James and I head in to do the show. The listeners love him. Then later in the day, Suzanne and Daniel join us in the studio with some goodies before we go home for our big turkey dinner. I don't mind working on Christmas Day as I have always done it.

As for anything that winds me up about James, in true young person style he is always going to do everything "in a minute". Whether it is the washing up or taking stuff to his room, he will do it "in a minute". That drives me mad sometimes!

Name: James Martin

Age: 22

Occupation: Has several part-time jobs

Relationship to Ivan: Son

My dad and I are very close. We spend a lot of time together and go places together. I go to the football with him every Saturday. It has become a tradition that I go along to the games and sit in the Press box with him. I have been going since I was about six. We have great craic and a lot of banter.

Dad is very easygoing and kind. I love that he spends so much time with me and my brother Daniel. He is like a friend to me as well as a dad. Daniel and I are very close, too, and we talk about things and have great craic.

Dad and I recently helped Mencap to launch part of their Big Step Forward Campaign, which is trying to raise the money to create a new centre for children and families at the Segal House site in Newtownbreda.

We were encouraging people to donate money to the appeal as they are trying to raise £1.7m.

I am very busy as I work three days a week - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - and then I am an ambassador for Mencap, who I help out on Mondays and Fridays. I have three jobs at the minute. I work in the Orchardville Society, which helps people with learning difficulties and disabilities. I work in their business centre on a Tuesday and love it. Then I work in an Italian restaurant on Wednesdays and in Starbucks on a Thursday. I love working with the customers as there is lots of banter and plenty of jokes. I don't feel like I am treated any differently because I have Down's Syndrome. I get included in everything and everyone is amazing to me.

I love going on my dad's radio show. All the listeners ring in and get me to read out their dedications and have a chat with them. I don't think there is anything bad to say about my dad. He is so good to me and I think he is great.

I am really looking forward to Christmas. We have our tree and all up. I can't wait. We go on the radio and then we have a lovely family dinner together.

Dad is also supportive of my acting. I am in a drama group called Bobosh and we are getting ready to perform the story of the Titanic soon. Last year I was the lead in An Oriental Tale.

I love to act and want to be a good actor.

Best foot forward for a good cause

Mencap's Big Step Forward campaign aims to raise funds to construct a new children and families' centre at Segal House, Newtownbreda. At the heart of this will be a nursery for two to four year olds with learning disabilities, autism or developmental delay. James and Ivan Martin have been involved in urging people to get involved in the campaign. To support the appeal to equip and run the new centre log onto www.men capbigstepforward.org or text MENCAP to 70660 to donate £3

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