Eagerly anticipated, at last we had the definitive confirmation that Hayley's college place was ready and waiting for her. We knew that the place was hers and that the funding was at last agreed , but the whole process had been so fraught with problems that we had almost expected some last minute hiccup.
"It's for me!" Despite the fact that she cannot read enough to make sense of most things she loves getting mail addressed to her. Tearing open the very large brown envelope she knew at once what it was. "It's from Dilston mum. What does it say?"
Well what didn't it say! Enough information to keep my husband and I engaged for a very long time and details of all that we needed to know about her impending start at the Mencap National College.
This has been our goal for such a long time now. Preparing a young person for the next stage of their lives is hard at the best of times. I clearly remember when my eldest was thinking about leaving home to go to uni. So many decisions to make, but once he got his offer the rest was down to him and depended on how well he did in his exams.
Hayley, however, was different. From her first transition review at the age of 13 we had been encouraged to send her to a residential college when she eventually left school. Everyone who knew her realised that she had the potential to live a full and independent life. We, too, believed that our daughter needed to be as self-sufficient as she could. All those years ago Dilston had been the college that her Head teacher had recommended.
Trouble is that having secured a place after an assessment week a year before she was due to start, everything was dependent on the funding coming from the government body, the LSC. Not keen to part with any more money than they had to, when it came down to it they initially refused funding as they felt that Hayley would be "adequately provided for" at a local day college!
To cut a very long and stressful story short we and many professionals involved with Hayley fought her corner and the funding was released!
So she's leaving home. Like thousands of other students this autumn. There is much to prepare and get ready, but she is looking forward to leaving home: "...like my brothers". The brown envelope contains all we need to know. Six weeks and counting! She is so excited.
And me? Well never have my emotions been so mixed up. My baby. Empty nest. Together on our own for the first time in twenty five years! Oh boy.