Thursday 17 April 2014

A Tribute to a Superstar

On 22nd October 1994 a superstar was born who inspired everyone he met with his passion for life and cheerful attitude. Andrew was a one-off, an incredible young man who may have appeared to have many problems but tackled everything head on with that trademark beaming grin. We could learn a lot from his approach.

Andrew's prom picture

Andrew was a wee fighter from day one. Born at 26 weeks in a dramatic emergency caesarean, he then spent his first three months in the hospital being fed via a tube. However, he couldn't wait to get home with his mummy and daddy and it wasn't long before he started drinking his milk. This led to his mum advocating letting him chew his food, despite the advice of health professionals who wanted to keep using the tube.

At age three Andrew enrolled in the nursery class at Stanmore House School, a place where he would remain for the next sixteen years and which we believe helped mould him into the remarkably gifted child he became. His local authority wanted him to enrol in the local special needs school, but this didn't offer the specialist one-on-one input that Stanmore could provide. This also entailed a move from Cumbernauld near Glasgow to the Lanarkshire countryside.

School picture aged 6
During his long tenure at Stanmore, Andrew made many friends and was hugely popular around the campus. He learnt to make clear choices and made great strides in his communication through strong vocalisations and expressions. He also got to go on exciting adventure holidays and threw himself into all activities. In recent times, Andrew was investigating the use of Eye Gaze technology which would have allowed him to utter sentences by picking out words with his eyeline. He would have used this at Beaumont College, where he had been accepted for a place to start in September 2014 (he was due to start in 2013, but our local authority failed to come through with funding for his care - we had already garnered the funds for the education element through the Friends of Andrew McNaughton campaign).

All in all, Andrew was an incredibly hardworking young man who did not let anything hold him back and there is no doubt that had he completed his college course, he would have been equipped with a set of skills that would have let him enter the workplace in an area like film editing, his chosen field of study at Beaumont.

Andrew with his baby sisters - Eve (top),
Hannah (left), Emma (right)
It still feels unreal that Andrew is not with us - he was the centre of the family and at the forefront of every decision we made. The house we lived in was built for Andrew, so we have since had to move. There were so many funny things about Andrew - he was fiercely protective of his three baby sisters and ensured they were completely ruined by sticking his bottom lip out and whining if they ever got a row!

Andrew's legacy, that you can do anything you want to do despite apparent limitations, is a powerful message that deserves to be heard far and wide. We have already used some of the money we raised to help other worthy local causes, such as a young boy with autism who has had a sensory room built where he can relax when things get too much.

We love you Andrew - here are some more fantastic pictures. Andrew loved the camera, and never took a bad photo!

Andrew with his Mummy at Centreparcs, summer 2010
In Friends of Andrew McNaughton t-shirts
With baby brother Cameron, 2009
As a scary surgeon at Halloween!
On a speedboat at Strathclyde Park, summer 2009
Andrew after his operation - diplomatically
supporting both Celtic and Rangers!