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Henry’s triple success with school awards after vision boost

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Sussex schoolboy Henry Johnston has ended the school year on a high after he was awarded not one but THREE achievement awards.

Henry, 13, attends Tanbridge House School in Horsham and also spends part of his school week at the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School which caters for children with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties, or complex needs.

Henry received a Headteacher's award for the year and an award in recognition of effort and achievement at Tanbridge House School.

He also received an award for overall enjoyment and achievement from Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School.

Like many children with Down syndrome, Henry has problems with his eyesight. But, after an assessment with Dr Maggie Woodhouse OBE, he was prescribed bifocal glasses and is now seeing the world more clearly.

Dr Woodhouse, a world expert on vision in children with Down syndrome, is leading a study funded by Horsham based children’s charity Action Medical Research to help children like Henry see better and attain their full potential.

She explains: “Many children with Down syndrome have vision problems. The children also have a learning disability. If vision problems are not recognised and corrected, there’s a danger that people might think a child’s learning disability is more severe than it is. People might then have lower expectations of the child than they should have, meaning the child’s learning is unnecessarily affected.”

Dr Woodhouse adds: “Children with Down syndrome who struggle to focus on things nearby seem to do really well with bifocals.  They see more clearly and do better school work.”

Dr Woodhouse and her team at Cardiff University want to find out why this is and hope that their work will benefit thousands of children.

“Better vision could improve both children’s learning and their quality of life – perhaps giving them a better chance of living independently, for example, or finding suitable employment when they grow up,” says Dr Woodhouse.

Henry’s mum Caroline is delighted with his progress: “Henry sees much better now and this in turn means he can work to his full potential at school. I think these fantastic awards show just how much his bifocal glasses are helping him.”

Mr Jules White, Headteacher at Tanbridge House School, said: "I was delighted to give my Headteacher's Award this year to Henry, as part of our Celebration Assembly for Year 8. Henry has made wonderful progress, in particular with his writing and general communication skills and I am so pleased to have recognised his effort and achievement formally. He is an excellent role model for so many of our students and makes an extremely positive contribution to Tanbridge House School."


– ENDS –

Notes to editors:

  • Estimates suggest around 40,000 people have Down syndrome in the UK, 7 million worldwide.1,2
  • Details of Dr Woodhouse’s research can be found on our website here
  • Henry’s story is on our website here
  • A blog by Dr Maggie Woodhouse can be found here
  • A radio interview with Caroline Johnston where she shares her hopes for her son Henry’s future can be accessed online here 


To download an image of Henry with Mr Jules White, Headteacher of Tanbridge House School, please click on this link:


1. Down’s Syndrome Association. General FAQs. Website accessed 27 July 2016

2. Down Syndrome International. Press Release: Down Syndrome International announces recipients of World Down Syndrome Day Awards - Down Syndrome International - 14 March 2014. Website accessed 27 July 2016.


For further information on Action Medical Research please contact Kate Lee:

T: 01403 327478



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Action Medical Research is a leading UK-wide charity saving and changing children’s lives through medical research. For more than 60 years we’ve helped pioneer ways to prevent disease and develop treatments benefiting millions of people. Our research has helped to beat polio in the UK, develop ultrasound, fight meningitis and prevent stillbirths. But we urgently need to develop more new treatments and cures for sick babies and children and we can’t do it without you.

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