‘We have achieved the unachievable for Connor’

Sara Ryan says the protective instinct in any mum of a disabled child is always on overdrive. “You’re so aware that there’s different expectations attached to them and you’re forever fighting that,” she says. Sara’s fight for her son Connor Sparrowhawk started when he was as young as two-years-old, after a paediatrician wrote him off as a child she’d “probably need respite from in the future”. But it’s also one she has had to continue for more than four years since his untimely death at a specialist NHS learning disability unit. On 4 July 2013, Connor was left unsupervised in the bath at the Slade House unit, run by Southern Health Trust. He suffered an epileptic fit and drowned. He was 18. At the time the trust said Connor died of “natural causes”. But an independent investigation found his death was preventable, and an inquest ruled neglect had contributed to his death. It was only last year that the organisation accepted full responsibility, and last month it pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws. Read more.

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