These are the kind of stories we all should be hearing more often than not. Two teenage couple with Down Syndrome were crowned prom king and queen by their classmates.
Amelie Barker and Dylan Hughes, both 16, were named as the king and queen at Monmouth Comprehensive School in Monmouthshire, Wales, after they topped the list during the vote from peers.
Dylan’s mother Victoria Hughes, 45, said: “He came home at midnight a very happy young man. Dylan didn’t want to take his crown and sash off – he was really thrilled.”
The couple began dating in March, but have known each other from the very beginning.
They were three when they first met, after Amelie’s mother, Katherina Barker, and Victoria set up the charity 21 Plus for parents with children who have Down syndrome.
Dylan and Amelie went to different primary schools, but both joined Monmouth Comprehensive School at the same time, soon becoming great friends.
Victoria, of Raglan in Monmouthshire, continued: “They have become very close over the last 18 months and we all started to realise there was a romance going on.
“Then in March Dylan asked me if he could take Amelie out on a date. They wanted to go to Pizza Express together, just the two of them. It was a lovely idea.”
She added: “The manager and staff were really helpful, they kept an eye and had my telephone number just in case.
“Dylan and Amelie were so excited, I was the one that was a bit nervous. I wanted to hide in the car around the corner.
“But it went off beautifully, they really enjoyed their first date just like any other teenagers.”
The two have since grown very fond of each other and have shared many beautiful moments. Dylan has also proven himself to be a bit of a romantic, often presenting Amelie with a bunch of flowers before dates.
Victoria continued: “It’s got quite serious and they are declaring everlasting love for each other.
“There was only ever going to be one girl that Dylan wanted to take to the prom.
“Their school friends think it’s very sweet and we knew they had planned a surprise at the prom.
“The evening was in full swing when we had a call to say Dylan and Amelie had been voted prom king and queen. They both thought it was fabulous.”
Another of Dylan’s big loves in life is sport. As well as playing rugby, he is also in the Down Syndrome swimming GB team, and is in training for the European Championships in Sardinia this September.
Proud Victoria and her husband Brian see Dylan’s prom king accolade as yet another achievement for their son.
She said: “It should be the norm that children with Down syndrome are in mainstream education and go on to jobs and live independently.
“We all have high expectations for our children so, as a family, we think of these things as normal – why shouldn’t they be?
“We should be celebrating the fact that Dylan and Amelie are part of the community and part of the school.
“They weren’t picked as king and queen of the prom because they have Down syndrome but because they are really popular pupils and everyone is really happy for them.”
Students at Monmouth Comprehensive School – which has 1,600 pupils – decided to vote Dylan and Amelie in as their king and queen of the prom, which was held at the Chase Hotel in Ross-on-Wye.
Hayley Page, assistant headteacher for inclusion, said: “Our culture and belief is that every child attends their local school and our aim is that every child can be independent, resilient and able to lead their lives.
“The great esteem held for the Dylan and Amelie and their popularity within our Year 11 led to them being voted as prom king and queen by their peers.
“This recognises the level of inclusivity and the values held by our school community.”