THE GORGEOUS WELSH KIDS WHO ARE FACES OF M&S CAMPAIGN
THEY may not even be 10 years old, but two Welsh children are taking the world of modelling by storm.
Both Cora Bishop and Lucus Evans have Down’s syndrome and in the past few months have appeared on posters, adverts and newspapers across the world as the faces of the Marks & Spencer Back to School campaign.
This is just the latest in a string of castings, filming and photo shoots – all alongside going to primary school each day.
Until Lucus, six, was born, proud parents Kellie and Dominic Evans had no idea their child would have Down’s syndrome.
No sooner had the family taken home their newborn son than they were faced with another discovery – a week later their older son Alexander was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Since then, however, the two boys have gone from strength to strength and now hold their own alongside their two sisters, modelling for a number of mainstream agencies.
“In two weeks I discovered my two boys had disabilities,” said Kellie, 40, from Bridgend. “I knew nothing. “I was at home when Lucus was about seven days old and I remember looking at things online.
“I phoned the doctors and just said, ‘I don’t want to read about the fact that my son might be infertile online, I need someone to sit down with me and tell me.’
“When you have a child their future isn’t mapped out, they can do anything.
“I remember crying, saying to Dominic that Lucus will never be a fireman – I didn’t even want him to be a fireman. I wasn’t being negative, I was just being a realist.”
To help others in the same situation, Kellie set up the Butterfly Hut in Bristol. Now partnered with national charity Follow Your Dreams, its aim is to provide safe, inclusive play for children with special needs.
As well as their charity work, Kellie’s family have also learned new skills to help Penybont Primary School pupil Lucus – including older sister Isabella, who has taught herself sign language.
Alongside her modelling work, Isabella, 12, runs her own Instagram page to teach words to others – often with videos starring Lucus himself.
Kellie said: “She did the sign for Clean Bandit’s Rockabye – I think then she had been learning sign language for about a year. It got 30,000 views.
“Now she does pop songs and will do her word of the day videos. People will message her through me to say they are learning to talk to their child through it.
“She taught herself and we are learning from her. I can sign ‘I love you’ to Lucus and we’re not disturbing anyone. Lucus loves it, it’s like his secret little language.”
So far Lucus has starred in campaigns for the likes of Thomas and Friends and the NSPCC, followed by a TV debut on Hollyoaks.
He has also been featured on National Trust and Royal Mint adverts alongside brother Alexander, eight, and sisters Isabella, 12, and Indiana, four.
For Kellie, the decision to use a mainstream agency for all four siblings stemmed from her concerns over pigeonholing children with disabilities.
She said: “He loves it. For Lucus as much as he doesn’t talk a lot, he is really sociable and as soon as that camera comes out he will start to interact with it.”
She added: “Overall people are really positive – so many people tell me how beautiful Lucus is – but there has been the odd one.
“You have people staring, as they are curious or have a personal story or know someone who is disabled, but they are too shy to ask anything.
“You can tell those from people with a grimace.
“I remember I was in Bristol about two and a half years ago and a lady came from behind a coffee table.
“She said, ‘Do you realise that things have come on so much now that you can fix his eyes?’ I just remember looking at her.”
This summer, being chosen for the Marks & Spencer Back to School campaign marked Lucus’ biggest work yet, thanks to child agency Kiddiwinks.
For his family the work represents an important step in including people with Down’s syndrome in the mainstream media.
Since then family and friends have sent Lucus pictures of his posters from all over the world, including as far as Dubai.
Kellie said: “Lucus loves seeing himself on TV and seeing his siblings but with Marks & Spencer it was the first time he was shocked.
“He did the shoot and they took the photos and they came back and said they wanted to use it worldwide.
“It’s just so great to see a child with Down’s syndrome in shops like M&S.”
You can follow Lucus and his siblings at instagram.com/indiana_isabella_lucus_xander
Sheryl Bishop was told there were complications with her unborn daughter Cora at 21 weeks pregnant.
Refusing the option to terminate the pregnancy, the 32-year-old and her partner Daniel went forward not knowing what to expect.
“We knew there were complications with the pregnancy from 20 weeks,” Sheryl, from Brymbo in Wrexham, said.
“We were told her heart hadn’t developed, her brain hadn’t developed, and her face hadn’t developed so we were expecting something much worse.
“All the way through we were pushed for a termination before any sort of diagnosis, even at 37 weeks.
“We were made aware of our options, including tests and terminations, and made it clear that the only way we would consider a termination was if our daughter was at risk of organ failure and would suffer from birth.”
At 39 weeks Cora was born after an emergency C-section.
Sheryl said: “Daniel was the first to hold her and his face said it all – he was smiling but he looked concerned so I knew something was wrong.
“As soon as I saw her little face I knew that Cora had Down’s syndrome. I felt a pang of pain and then a huge sense of relief that all the things we’d been expecting were wrong.”
Cora is now seven years old and a pupil at Gwersyllt Primary School.
Last April her family heard about Zebedee Management agency, which specialises in working with children with disabilities.
After being signed up, Cora was soon invited to a casting for the River Island Labels Are For Clothes campaign to celebrate diversity.
Following a 10-hour round trip and 10-minute audition, Cora was selected together with other children aged between three and 10 for the campaign.
Mother-of-two Sheryl said: “Cora absolutely loved it – she was in her element being the centre of attention and making everyone laugh.
“She loves all the big bows and girly things.
“They took her to the set where they film the video and she just ran
Cora Bishop, seven, from Wrexham, loves modelling
Lucus Evans, six, who has Down’s syndrome,