Call the Midwife's Sarah Gordy
Tea Time Tidbit for the week of December 10, 2018
Sarah Gordy (right) as Sally Harper
We’re mid-way through December, which means not much longer to wait until this year’s Call the Midwife Christmas Special, which airs Christmas Day at 9pm. I’ll have more on the special another time, but first we want to wish congratulations to Midwife actress Sarah Gordy, who early last month became the first woman with Down Syndrome to receive an MBE!
An MBE, which stands for Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, is awarded by the Queen, in recognition for outstanding service to the community. Gordy received her MBE on November 8th, for her services to the arts and people with disabilities, including her charity work as an ambassador for the charity Mencap. The medal was presented by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, in a ceremony at Buckingham Place. Accompanying Gordy at the ceremony was her father, sister and proud mother, who reportedly shed tears of joy on receipt of the letter announcing her daughter’s award.
Sarah Gordy with her father
In addition to her MBE, on December 12th the 40-year-old actress, dancer and campaigner will also become the first person with Down Syndrome to be awarded an honorary doctorate by a UK university, when she is recognized at the University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Arts’ graduation ceremony with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Gordy only appeared in one episode of Call the Midwife, but it was a memorable one. It was also the most controversial episode up to that time. In it, she starred as the pregnant Sally Harper, who is in love with, and wants to live with, her baby’s father, who has Cerebral Palsy. The episode received a lot of media attention, which was probably exactly what writer and creator of Call the Midwife, Heidi Thomas, had in mind when she penned it!
Thomas’s late brother was born with Down Syndrome in 1970, and the Sally Harper/Jacob Milligan love story was reportedly an episode she had wanted to write for a long time. According to Colin Young, who played Jacob, Thomas “wanted to express the difficulty of disabled people wanting to find love.”
Colin Young as Jacob and Sarah Gordy as Sally in Call the Midwife series 3
Gordy first met Thomas when she appeared in several episodes of another series Thomas produced and wrote; the Upstairs, Downstairs revival. Gordy played Pamela Holland, a character who is supposedly dead, but who has been put into a residential home. This was the first time that a major costume drama had featured a character with Down Syndrome.
As well as performing – which Gordy appears to do consistently on screen and on stage – she also campaigns tirelessly for people with learning disabilities. Especially those with Down Syndrome, who Gordy says she wants to “inspire and empower to believe in themselves,” so that they know that “the world is their oyster.”
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