The Top 40

Date: 10th February 2022

Alan Cunningham Trustee of Down’s Syndrome Scotland shares his excitement as the 40th Anniversary of Down’s Syndrome Scotland approaches.

Down’s Syndrome Scotland is 40 years old, and to celebrate, we are having a year of activities and initiatives that will not only drive awareness but will raise funds for important services and will aim to change the lives of people with Down’s syndrome in Scotland.

It’s going to be a year of big events and big ideas. We’ll have our Fundraising Ball at the Glasgow Hilton on Saturday 12 November 2022. We are hoping to see the return of the Sandfest music concert and our much-missed Members Conference. We are also in the throes of organising a personality led golf event which will not only be a fundraiser but will also be aimed at introducing children and adults with Down’s syndrome to golf. We are looking at working with some key partners on other major events across Scotland, and we have lots of other ideas and developments in the pipeline to celebrate our 40 years and raise awareness even further. Watch this space!

We also want members of our branches to hold 40 local events throughout the year. It can be anything from a party to a mini-festival, a golf tournament to a tea dance, a sponsored walk to a corporate lunch or dinner. This local programme of events and activities will be a yearlong festival of celebration.

We’ll also challenge our membership to have 40 people participate in national fundraising events like the Kiltwalks. With the support of Sir Tom Hunter topping up all funds raised by 50% it’s a great way to raise funds, create more awareness and have a great day out!

Throughout the year will be focusing on the number ‘40’.

Did you know that number 40 is a number that has a lot of fascinating associations? There are 40 spaces on a Monopoly board, a pregnancy lasts 40 weeks and when you have a nap you have ‘40 winks’.  Also, the Italian word for 40 is quaranta – hence quarantine quite apt as we start our recovery from the COVID pandemic!

So, the number forty is very much part of our lives. If you are of a certain age, you’ll have listened to the Top 40 chart shows on the radio (40 actually representing the number of singles that an older jukebox would hold). The 40th birthday always seems to be more momentous than the 30th. And that’s why in our 40th year we are going to rightly celebrate it.

We do want it to be a celebration. But forty years on we also want to make a mark in the sand, and to raise awareness and change many things for the better for people with Down’s syndrome right across Scotland.

We will split the year in four quarters. Starting with the launch on World Down Syndrome Day – 21st March 2022- we will highlight 4 main issues that will mirror our four programmes for change:

  • Employment– we need more job opportunities for people with Down’s syndrome
  • Health– people with Down’s syndrome deserve better health outcomes
  • Transitions– we have to improve the key transitions moments in our young people’s lives
  • Community–we want to see people with Down’s syndrome living well and being active members of their local community

Each programme focuses on a different objective –and they align with our new three-year strategic plan.

It is important in a year that the charity marks its 40th birthday that we come of age as a society and include people with Down’s syndrome so that they can have access to better health services, better employment opportunities, better inclusion within our communities and better transition opportunities through school and college into adult life.

Let’s make our birthday a Fabulous Fortieth. Let’s make a real difference and change people’s perceptions and open up opportunities for all people who have Down’s syndrome.

Here are some ideas that we are considering:

  • Top 40 Ball- Can we have 40 tables in the Hilton and raise more than £40,000.
  • We are targeting the top 40 employers to sign up to an employment pledge. Can we have a top 40 employers who are the first to sign the pledge?
  • We’ll have ten 40-year olds with Down’s syndrome coming to a reception at the Scottish Parliament.
  • We want 40 MSPs to sign up to our better health pledge and greater employment pledge.
  • We want 40 schools and colleges across Scotland to sign up to our transition pledge.
  • We want 40 celebrities to sign up to our pledge on inclusion

There are plenty of other activities that we can look at in detail for example in Ireland there is a young man called Padraig O’Callaghan who has his Paudcast (see YouTube video HERE). We want to increase our visibility and we want people with Down’s syndrome to have their own voice- we could do a Top 40 PODcast that covers many of the strands of our campaign.

In conclusion, we want to create a real buzz, to change viewpoints, and to take the charity to a different level and relevance going into our 5th decade.

Please join in and share your ideas and your plans to celebrate our 40th year.

You can email us at