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Little Lucie is star on the rise: Down mum's pride as disabled siblings star in TV ads

Like her idol Kate Grant, schoolgirl (6), is a natural in front of the camera

Lucie Elliott
Lucie Elliott

By Maureen Coleman

This is the little girl from Co Down who’s hoping to follow in the footsteps of her idol Kate Grant after she was chosen to appear in an upcoming fostering promotional campaign.

At just six years old Lucie Elliott, who has Down’s syndrome, is already a star in the making, having featured in a number of television and billboard advertising campaigns.

A few months ago Lucie made her debut on the catwalk, modelling at a fashion show for the Buttercrane Shopping Centre in Newry. And now she is set to star in a new HSC Northern Ireland Foster Care promotion, which will be launched in February, to promote the need for more local foster carers.

Mum Zoe, who lives in Waringstown with partner Alan, stepson Jay (8), Lucie and four-year-old Archie, describes her middle child as “confident and driven”, who knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t want to do.

And she says the little girl looks up to Cookstown model and ambassador for Benefit make-up brand, Kate Grant, who has helped pave the way for models with Down’s syndrome.

“Lucie is quite stubborn or maybe a better word to describe her is driven,” Zoe says. “You couldn’t get her to do something she doesn’t want to do.

“I write a blog on Instagram and had shared a photograph of her wearing clothes from the Buttercrane. A woman from the centre contacted me and asked if Lucie would like to model for them.

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Kate Grant
Kate Grant

“When we brought her down to the centre and she saw the catwalk, I wasn’t sure she was going to do it. My sister sat at the end of it for her first appearance, just to give her some confidence. She got to the bottom and did a twirl, then came back and did a few changes to walk down a second and third time. When she got to the end of the catwalk, she even did the Floss.

“She really enjoyed doing it, asking if she could go again. She wasn’t in the least bit stressed by it all. In fact, she seemed very pleased with herself. She shares that confidence trait with her favourite role model, Kate Grant.”

Lucie’s older brother Jay has Down’s syndrome too and has also featured in several advertising campaigns. All three children regularly appear in Zoe’s blog, Upside Down, documenting the fun times and the challenges facing the family.

Lucie Elliott from Waringstown
Lucie Elliott from Waringstown

Both Lucie and Jay are signed up to Rising Talent agency in Portadown after Jay successfully screen-tested for a TV ad that required a child with a visual disability. He has now appeared in several campaigns for the Department of Education, featuring alongside his little sister in one for Play Matters.

“Because Jay is compliant and good at taking directions, the television work suits him well,” says Zoe. “His development is more delayed than Lucie’s and he has a lot more medical complications. Lucie had heart surgery when she was just five months old but shouldn’t need anything further whereas Jay’s heart condition is more severe and he has a pacemaker fitted.

“Jay goes to a special school in Lurgan while Lucie attends a mainstream primary school. From 18 months she was walking, which was a lot sooner than anticipated. She’s more eager to learn whereas if Jay knows there’s someone who can do things for him, he’ll be happy to allow that.

Lucie Elliott
Lucie Elliott
Lucie Elliott
Six years old Lucie Elliott from Waringstown, who has Down's Syndrome, is a star in the making, having featured in a number of television and billboard advertising campaigns.

“Although they both have Down’s syndrome, Lucie and Jay couldn’t be more different. Just because they share the same condition doesn’t mean they have the same needs or medical issues or personalities.”

With four-year-old Archie to look after too, Zoe certainly has her hands full. Growing up with two younger siblings with learning difficulties and having previously worked with children with special needs, she says she feels better equipped emotionally to cope with the stresses and strains of daily life.

“I think I’m in a rather unique position because two of my sisters had learning difficulties and then I worked with kids with autism, so disability wasn’t new to me,” she says. “I guess I don’t find the situation as tough as someone who has no previous experience.

Six years old Lucie Elliott from Waringstown, who has Down's Syndrome, is a star in the making, having featured in a number of television and billboard advertising campaigns.
Six years old Lucie Elliott from Waringstown, who has Down's Syndrome, is a star in the making, having featured in a number of television and billboard advertising campaigns.

“In saying that, I don’t want to come across as someone who has it all under control or whose life is all rosy in the garden. It’s important that I don’t give the impression that everything is wonderful. Nor would I want other parents to look at my children and think that’s what their child should be achieving too. Every child is different, every situation is different.”

Zoe says she is thrilled to see Kate Grant doing so well in modelling.

“She’s such an amazing role model for Lucie,” Zoe says. “To think that people with Down’s syndrome were institutionalised 40 years ago is horrendous and the progress of Kate is unparalleled.”

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