26 Sept 2022

Adorable toddler feted as an actor and model will beam out from giant screens in NYC’s Times Square as face of a Down’s syndrome charity

Adorable toddler feted as an actor and model will beam out from giant screens in NYC’s Times Square as face of a Down’s syndrome charity

An adorable toddler who has already won plaudits as an actor and model will soon be seen beaming out from giant screens in New York’s dazzling Times Square as the face of a Down’s syndrome charity.

With his irresistible smile, 22-month-old Nate Court won hearts in millions of homes when he appeared in BBC drama Call The Midwife at just three-months-old, then going on to model for brands like Primark and Mothercare.

But, for his accountant mum Charlotte Court, 34, data manager dad Matthew Court, 36, and his big brother Zac, six, the ultimate accolade will be seeing his face unveiled next month in the Big Apple, at the heart of the USA, as part of a video presentation shown on giant screens, promoting the National Down’s Syndrome Society.

Speaking on behalf of his proud family, Charlotte, of Solihull, West Midlands, said: “When Nate was born, we had no idea what Down’s Syndrome meant and everything felt so negative – there was nothing positive.

“But we are so incredibly proud of him and how far he has come.

“To think that his cheeky grin will be live in New York’s Times Square is spectacular and crazy.”

She added: “It is wonderful to think he will be a part of something dedicated to inclusion and acceptance and promoting a charity that has helped our family so much.”

After a smooth pregnancy, when Nate was born on 23 October 2020, Matthew and Charlotte were shocked by his diagnosis of Down’s syndrome – which results from being born with an extra chromosome and can cause learning disabilities and other health complications.

Charlotte said: “We just crumbled because we didn’t know anything about it or what it meant.”

She added: “We had a very old-fashioned idea of what Down’s syndrome was. We were  heartbroken.

“We were worried how independent Nate would be, what needs he would have and what responsibility Zac might have looking after him.

“We just had a complete lack of knowledge. No one said that he would be okay and that it would all be okay.”

With Nate immediately whisked away to the neonatal unit for checks on his heart and bowel – which was not fully functioning – it took a few days for the couple to come to terms with his diagnosis.

Charlotte said: “For the first two days, I was in this state of shock and in a daze.

“But as I was holding him and cuddling him mummy-mode just kicked in and I thought, ‘I’m his mum and he is my boy, what do I need to do now?'”

Diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s – a rare condition that causes waste to become stuck in the bowels – for the first three months of Nate’s life, he was very poorly, needing rectal washouts every day.

Charlotte said: “Twice a day for about an hour-and-half each time, we would set up the house with apparatus to empty his belly.

“It was hard because he was so small and looked so unwell, as he wasn’t really eating properly.”

The operation to repair Nate’s bowel was a success and immediately gave the tot a new lease of life.

Charlotte said: “He was so much better and started smiling and rolling around almost immediately.”

Immersing themselves in Down’s syndrome forums and groups online to learn everything they could within the community, the couple realised how far attitudes still need to change.

Charlotte said: “Everyone always says how strong the Down’s syndrome community is and they are right.

“It made such a difference being able to talk to other parents and see people living their lives, happy and working with Down’s syndrome children.

“But I did start to notice going to certain classes or activities that we would mention Nate had Down’s syndrome and people would just look at him and say, ‘Oh!’ Then they wouldn’t know what else to say.”

She added: “There is still so much misunderstanding about it.”

Nate’s big break came in January 2021 when Charlotte stumbled on an advert from a Down’s syndrome charity looking for a baby of his age and weight for a TV show.

To the couple’s disbelief, Nate was selected to appear on the show – revealed to be Call The Midwife.

Charlotte said: “I couldn’t believe it. It is one of my favourite shows and I’ve never missed an episode.”

Featuring in the final episode of series 10 aired in May 2021, Nate’s parents  saw their baby boy being ‘born again’ in the episode.

“It was everything we could have wanted,” said Charlotte.

“It was really emotional and cathartic to watch Nate being ‘born’.

“They matched every emotion we had felt about Down’s syndrome in all the characters and it was so well done. Every feeling shown was valid.

“Nate’s little brother watched and said he didn’t know why he was crying and I explained they were happy tears, because he was proud of his brother!”

Nate’s starring role quickly saw him join the books of an agency representing children with disabilities and the modelling gigs started to line up.

Working with the likes of Mothercare, Primark and different children’s salons and boutiques, he has become a seasoned model.

Charlotte said: “Nate absolutely loves it. As soon as he gets to the photoshoots, he thinks it is play time!”

They added: “They have all these toys and ribbons and baby sharks and he just rolls around and plays with everything.”

It is undoubtedly Nate’s cheeky personality that makes him such a natural in front of the camera, according to his mum.

She said: “He loves the camera.”

She added: “He will give them one cheeky shot and then crawl off to the back of the room – he is such a rascal!

“If he goes to do something mischievous and we tell him off, he will wag his finger at us with this really coy face.

“We can’t go shopping without someone stopping us because he is so cute. He draws a crowd wherever we go.”

Then in July, after Matt spotted an advert for the National Down’s Syndrome Society – looking for people to send in pictures for a video to be displayed in Times Square – they applied again on a whim.

Charlotte said: “When Matt told me Nate had been accepted, I actually had to research again what it was because I couldn’t remember!

“I couldn’t believe it at first – but it is just spectacular and wonderful.”

She added: “When Nate was first born, I was scared. I want and need future families to know they shouldn’t be scared, because it is going to be okay.

“Down’s Syndrome is just part of life and a different way of learning and growing.

“I love that Nate does things in his own time, in his own way and always with this determined smile.”

And it means the world to Matt that his son will be helping to make a difference.

Matt said: “Seeing Nate’s smile on that big screen will be incredible.

“I think my face will hurt from how much I will be smiling.”

He added: “It would have helped me so much to see something like this when Nate was born, to show the positive story and help educate people.

“We are so proud of Nate, what he has achieved and who he is.

“Ultimately, Nate wouldn’t be who he is without Down’s Syndrome.”

And while the couple are eagerly awaiting Nate’s Times Square debut on September 17, they are excited for what else the future will bring.

Matt said: “It would be so incredible if Nate’s familiarity with the camera grew into something more and became a love or career for him.

“But even if it all ended tomorrow, we will have this amazing capsule of memories to treasure.

“We just can’t wait to see what more he achieves.”

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