After months of preparation and planning, Joshua’s 6th Form Prom has arrived and their school day is dominated by getting ready for the big event : a hairdresser is invited in to style the pupils’ hair, everyone is showered ready for the evening and there is a parade around the rest of the school, to show off their finery as students wear their suits and posh frocks. The evening was all set and the pupils and staff left school in a coach to go to the Hotel in Town at 5pm and parents were invited from 7pm onwards.
My husband and I were on our way, when I had a call on my mobile to see how far away we were, as Joshua was pale and was refusing to remove his suit jacket and at that stage we were still about 15 minutes away, and the staff sounded concerned about him. As we pulled into the hotel car park, we were greeted by an ambulance and police car, so I leapt out while my husband found a parking space. A teaching assistant recognised my look of panic, as I scanned the scene, and gave me a thumbs up to reassure me that all was well. It is incredible how quickly your imagination can suggest scenarios to you when presented with such a scene, putting two and two together and getting six.
I rushed to the function room, to see Joshua in his wheelchair, in his 3-piece suit, doubled over with his head on his knees. He sat up when he saw it was me, but he was indeed pale, was very hot and was trembling. I removed his jacket and waistcoat immediately , so got no photographs in his finery, and stood him up, walking him outside to some fresh air as he seemed to be over-heating. He continued to tremble outside in the marina and so we moved into the quieter, cooler bar area where he snuggled me on the settee.. My husband bought him an orange juice to try to cool him down but he was very reluctant to drink. He then set off in search of some paracetamol to try to bring his temperature down. Two TAs sat with us in the bar and several staff members checked on his well-being, while we waited for my husband to return with paracetamol. When he arrived, Joshua took his medicine well and we waited for a few minutes for it to work its magic.
We decided to re-join the party, as we were missing the fun, and so we wheeled him back into the function room and sat at the side of the festivities, where there was much excitement to watch. After a while for the paracetamol to take effect, I stood Joshua up again and we stumbled onto the dance floor where staff and students danced around him and he stood still looking around. Gradually he started to feel better and so he began to bend his knees and dance on the spot. Within around half an hour, he began to move around the dance floor proffering high-5s, waving and pointing at all the familiar faces in the room and he began to enjoy himself and we had Joshua back! We had a go in the Photo Booth, though were not very successful as Joshua will not keep hats on his head and so most of the 4 images involve me placing a hat on his head or him removing it, there was no posing!
The party ended at 9pm, when Joshua was just getting into his stride. He was rarely off the dancefloor and he was drawn to many of the pretty big sisters who had brought their siblings to the Prom. Much to my surprise, I only shed a tear once – well we missed the leavers awards and speeches so that may be the real reason ,why – when one of the students sang a solo, and his intense performance really moved me. Joshua’s first Prom did not start quite as I had envisaged, but the second hour that we were there, he thoroughly enjoyed, so we will all know what to expect next year and we will learn from last night’s experience.
Thank you School for offering the young people in your care, an opportunity to have a mainstream Prom Experience. I realise how much hard work and extra hours go into organising and running such an event, and despite some unexpected blips, it went really well and the students, and parents, thoroughly enjoyed themselves.