Adorable toddler with Down’s Syndrome signed to top modelling agency 

Adorable toddler with Down’s syndrome who starred in a heartwarming ‘Carpool Karaoke’ style video that went viral is snapped up by a children’s modelling agency

  • Francesca Lockwood, three, from Yorkshire, has Down’s syndrome
  • Among the stars of a ‘Carpool Karaoke’ style video that went viral in March
  • Children with Down’s syndrome had a singalong using sign language
  • Now Francesca’s mother Melissa, 39, revealed she’s been modelling 

She was among the adorable young stars of a touching Carpool Karaoke-style singalong video that spread like wildfire across the web in March. 

And it seems three-year-old Francesca Lockwood, from Yorkshire, who has Down’s syndrome, is developing a taste for the limelight.

She appeared in a four-and-a-half video called ’50 Mums, 50 Kids, 1 Extra Chromosome’ in which mums and children with Down’s syndrome sang along to the pop song A Thousand Years using sign language, and which racked up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.   

Now, proud full-time mum Melissa, of Wath-upon-Dearne, has told how her little girl has been snapped up by a children’s modelling agency that’s promoting diversity.

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Little Francesca Lockwood, three, melted internet surfers’ hearts with her rendition of Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years which she performed using sign language

Proud full-time mum Melissa Lockwood (L), of South Yorkshire, is now celebrating her daughter being signed by a top modelling agency, intent on promoting diversity

Francesca is now on the books at Zebedee Management, an agency devoted to diversity within the modelling industry. 

Speaking about her little girl, Melissa said: ‘This isn’t about selling clothes, it’s about inclusion and showing children with Down’s syndrome how amazing they are.

‘For other kids too, it’s good to be exposed to diversity early. The more children see people that are different to them, the more they’ll grow up to be accepting adults.

‘At the moment, it seems only one specific, very prescribed version of beauty is celebrated by the modelling industry. But really, everyone is beautiful to someone.’

Already parents to Alexander, 10, and Elizabeth, seven, Melissa and her husband, commercial manager Alan, 39, were delighted when they discovered they were expecting a third baby. 

The adorable toddler with Down’s Syndrome, who went viral with a touching carpool karaoke video, is now set to become a model

Francesca was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome soon after birth. Thankfully, unlike some children with Down’s, Francesca has not had any heart problems

During her pregnancy, she was offered routine antenatal screening for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes, but, adamant that the results would make no difference, she refused them.

‘Either way, I’d have continued with the pregnancy,’ she said. ‘We’d have loved our baby no matter what.’

But the minute Melissa set eyes on Francesca, after she arrived into the world on 14 May 2014 at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, weighing 6lb 10oz, she says she knew her newborn had Down’s syndrome.

During her pregnancy, she was offered routine antenatal screening for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes, but, adamant that the results would make no difference, she refused them

The minute Melissa set eyes on Francesca, after she arrived into the world on 14 May 2014 at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, weighing 6lb 10oz, she knew her newborn had Down’s Syndrome (seen modelling)

Melissa recalled: ‘I just knew. I remember thinking how different she looked to the other two, but looking back now, I’m not so sure she even did.

‘I said to Alan, ‘Do you think she looks okay?’ Neither of us wanted to say at first, but he eventually went, ‘You think she has Down’s, don’t you?’

After speaking to the midwife, Melissa and Alan were visited by a paediatrician, who took a blood test which confirmed their first instinct that their daughter had Down’s syndrome.

Unlike her other children, the tot was born with a number of physical characteristics related to the condition, like slanted eyes

After spotting a Facebook advert in December 2017, in which a children’s clothing company was running a competition to find a new face of their brand, she submitted a photo of the youngster (seen in the pictures that won her the Facebook competition) 

Francesca’s mum says she loves being in front of the camera (Francesca playing with a camera when she was interviewed about carpool karaoke)

‘I’d Googled the condition, and Francesca had virtually all the signs. It was like reading a tick list. So, in that way, I’d mentally prepared myself,’ Francesca’s mum said. 

‘But hearing it said out loud and confirmed was still very difficult. Until then, there’d been this tiny chance we could be wrong.

‘Those first few weeks were hard. I was almost mourning the child I’d been expecting, but if I could go back now, knowing how awesome Francesca is, I wouldn’t have been upset in the slightest.’

Next, Melissa sat Elizabeth and Alexander down to explain their little sister’s condition to them.

Touchingly, she used a book that had been gifted to her by a couple from a Down’s Syndrome Facebook support group – who asked her to then pass it on to another set of parents, when the time was right.

A small hole in her heart closed itself just before her third birthday, avoiding the need for surgery

Already parents to Alexander, 10, and Elizabeth, seven, (seen) Melissa and her husband, commercial manager Alan, 39, were delighted to discover they were expecting a third baby

The story, called ‘We’ll Paint the Octopus Red’ focuses on a little girl preparing for her baby brother’s arrival, then fretting that he might not be able to do everything she had planned, when he is born with Down’s.

‘It captured everything I wanted to say. That we could still do everything we’d planning with Francesca, and she would be able to run and climb about after her siblings – but that it may just take her a little longer, that’s all,’ said. Melissa

Thankfully, unlike some children with Down’s, Francesca has not had any heart problems.

Developmentally, she is delayed, and needs speech and language therapy, as well as physiotherapy, but Melissa is optimistic that she will still hit all the usual milestones

A small hole in her heart closed itself just before her third birthday, avoiding the need for surgery.

Developmentally, she is delayed, and needs speech and language therapy, as well as physiotherapy, but Melissa is optimistic that she will still hit all the usual milestones.

‘She didn’t walk until she was two – but after that, there was no stopping her,’ she smiled.

‘She’s really close to her siblings. She can’t say their names, so she calls them Beth and Ander. They love reading to her and really dote on her, but then they’ll still tease each other, like any brothers and sisters.

‘She’s really close to her siblings. She can’t say their names, so she calls them Beth and Ander. They love reading to her and really dote on her’, she said

Over the years, family, friends and classmates have all been very accepting of Francesca, but Melissa would like to see better representation of children with Down’s Syndrome

‘We think it’s really important to show Francesca our expectations of her are just the same as with the other two. Of course, at times we need to adapt to her way of doing things, but we don’t want people to make allowances for her. She’s very capable.’

Over the years, family, friends and classmates have all been very accepting of Francesca, but Melissa would like to see better representation of children with Down’s Syndrome in the wider community.

With this in mind, after spotting a Facebook advert in December 2017, in which a children’s clothing company was running a competition to find a new face of their brand, she submitted a photo of the youngster.

Not expecting much of a response, Melissa was staggered when Francesca’s picture polled 1,000 votes in just 24 hours, eventually winning with a total of 10,000.

Melissa sat Elizabeth and Alexander down to explain their little sister’s condition to them using a book gifted to her by a couple from a Down’s Syndrome Facebook support group

 The family were overwhelmed by the response to the little girl’s modelling pictures for the Facebook competition

At the photoshoot she was awarded as a prize, she loved twirling around in different outfits and posing for the camera.

‘She absolutely adored being the centre of attention, which got me thinking about modelling in general,’ said Melissa.

A few weeks later, Francesca hit headlines when her touching version of Carpool Karaoke – a segment on The Late Late Show with James Corden, in which the actor invites various celebrities to sing along to famous hits as they drive around – went viral.

Again, she loved being in the spotlight – so Melissa looked for other ways to help her realise her dreams of becoming a model.

Earlier this year, the little girl was officially signed to Zebedee Management, an agency dedicated to diversifying the modelling industry, after her mum heard about them through a support group.

At the photoshoot she was awarded as a prize, she loved twirling around in different outfits and posing for the camera

Francesca, Elizabeth and Alexander are close knit siblings

Earlier this year, the little girl was officially signed to Zebedee Management, an agency dedicated to diversifying the modelling industry 

Melissa is also currently petitioning for Makaton, a type of sign language often performed on CBeebies by presenter Mr Tumble, to be made a part of the national curriculum

Now, with a number of castings lined up, Melissa is also currently petitioning for Makaton, a type of sign language often performed on CBeebies by presenter Mr Tumble, to be made a part of the national curriculum.

She hopes that, if Francesca secures some modelling campaigns, it will show other children with Down’s Syndrome that they are beautiful too.

She said: ‘It’s important to show that, just because you have a disability, you’re still capable of achieving all sorts.

‘Children with Down’s are just as beautiful as anybody else and they deserve to be accepted as part of everyday society.

‘Francesca is such a bright, determined little girl. She’s absolutely fantastic, and we’re all so proud of her. I wouldn’t change her for the world.’

Sign Melissa’s petition for Makaton to be made a compulsory part of Early Years and Primary education here.    

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