Hollie brings joy amid fear after song goes viral

Hollie brings joy amid fear after song goes viral

25 March 2020

ONE happy little Downpatrick girl managed to bring people’s smiles back amid the coronavirus outbreak with a special song.

Seven year-old Hollie English and her parents, Martin and Sharon, celebrated World Down Syndrome Day on Saturday when they signed in Makaton to the song, Better Place, on a Facebook video.

The video has gone on to receive over 160,000 views, with the family receiving compliments and well-wishes from all over Northern Ireland and from across Europe.

Hollie, a pupil at Our Lady and St Patrick Primary School, was meant to have signed to the song last Friday with the rest of her P3 classmates.

However, as the school could not allow close contact for the performance of the song and was closed last week to pupils for exceptional closure days, Hollie and her parents were determined not to let the moment pass.

“The main idea for the song came from Hollie’s school,” explained dad Martin.

“Hollie is the only child in the school with Down’s Syndrome and every year the kids help Hollie celebrate World Down Syndrome Day in March. Last year they learned the Makaton language and signed along to a song.

“The school wanted to do something special this year as it’s the 50th anniversary of the Down’s Syndrome Association. But it wasn’t possible due to the current climate. The pupils were all going to sign to the song with the message that the world was a better place with people like Hollie in it.

“My sister-in-law, Ciara English, is a classroom assistant in the school, so we knew what they were planning and decided to go ahead at home and do it.”

Martin said that the final video, which was shared by Hollie’s school, was the family’s first attempt.

“It was really off-the cuff, more like a practice run, but we sent it anyway to the school and the school decided to post it,” he said.

“The reaction to it has been stunning. We have had messages from all over Europe and it’s just blown our minds this week.”

The song from American singer/songwriter Rachel Platten sums up the mood of Hollie’s parents for the contribution that she makes to their lives.

Martin said: “Hollie is our only child and we are so lucky to have her. She is quite clever and is keeping up well in school. The school has been fantastic with her.”

Martin and his wife did not know that Hollie had Down’s until she was born.

“It did come as a slight shock but she was our only child and it didn’t matter to us,” said Martin. “Yes, it was a different road for us as parents but Hollie has just been fantastic and had got through everything so easily without any fuss. She’s just a super child.”

Since Hollie and her parents made their video, several of her school friends have also posted Facebook videos of them signing to the song while they self-isolate at home.