Helping fry burgers, making up sandwiches, serving food to customers, setting out cups and loading the dishwasher is all in a day’s work for Aaron Ferguson.
The 17-year-old was born with Down’s syndrome and has just secured his first job at the Kinross Golf Club at Beeches Park.
The role has given the teen a new lease of life according to parents Lorraine and Andy, who were told Aaron would have a 50% chance of surviving to the age of two after he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy within the first two weeks of his life.
This disease makes it harder for his heart to pump blood to the rest of the body.
His parents were also told that because of his disability, there was no guarantee Aaron would reach the average life expectancy for a UK male, and so have always encouraged him to live it to the fullest.
Aaron, who lives in Kinross, also now attends a recreational course at Perth College after finishing at Fairview School in Perth in July 2022.
But it is his new job at the golf course that has put a spring in his step after the employer took a chance on him. Four shifts in and Aaron is loving his new part-time role and works 1-3pm every Friday to Sunday.
Gaining a sense of independence at Golf Club
Thriving off structure, his parents, as well as brothers Rory and Jamie, were concerned for Aaron after he left school as he seemed lost without routine.
Lorraine spoke with her boss, Dave Halewood of Expat Media radio station, where she occasionally works, about Aaron’s future plans and as a result, was introduced to Debbie Spalding at Kinross Golf Club.
Aaron’s trial shift took place two weeks ago in the kitchen and after enjoying it so much, he requested that his parents ask if his two-hour shift could be increased to three.
Lorraine said: “I would like him to have something in the community that gives him a sense of purpose and self that he can build on.
“He has always wanted a job with both of his brothers working and we want him to feel independent.”
The team at Kinross Golf Club are equally delighted with Aaron’s progress and catering manager Joyce Paterson, 53, has really enjoyed working with the eager teenager.
“He’s a happy lad and he’s doing really well. We were happy to give him the chance,” Joyce said.
Making a difference
For proud father Andy, sharing updates on Aaron’s success on his LinkedIn page has resulted in almost 140,000 people liking his post about his son’s news, with more than 600 sharing it.
Thousands have left heart-warming messages of support and Andy says it has allowed others, both nationally and internationally, to see what an opportunity like Aaron’s has made to both him and his family.
Andy said: “We are really pleased, it has given him a real sense of purpose.
“Leaving school was a lot more difficult for him than we realized it would be. Having this job has made such a difference for him.”
The reaction from Andy’s post on LinkedIn has encouraged other businesses to get in touch with him to offer Aaron further support in the workplace. While the family is grateful for all of the messages, they have asked firms to contact other charities to offer their support.
Andy added: “People from all over have reached out wanting to offer a similar opportunity and I have directed them to the Down’s Syndrome Association.
“I hope it makes the same difference to someone else as it did for us.”
Living for the moment
With Aaron’s heart condition, there is still uncertainty around his future and as a result the family visits as many places as they can together to make as many memories.
“He keeps you in the moment and what he has overcome is amazing.” says Lorraine.
“He may not have a long life but I will make sure he has a brilliant life.”
Aaron will continue to work Fridays to Sundays at the golf club and looks forward to progressing in his role.
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[Kinross Golf Club job helps teenager Aaron find ‘sense of purpose’]