At 68, Oldest Man (on record) with Down Syndrome Dies in England

By Katy Wheeler
The oldest man in the world with Down's syndrome has died aged 68. Doctors didn't expect Peter Davison to live past 14, but he went on to have a long, healthy life and was even awarded the title of "Oldest man with Down's syndrome living" by Guinness World Records. He died peacefully on December 12 surrounded by friends and family at Barnes Court Nursing Home in Wycliffe Road, High Barnes, Sunderland.

Today his devoted big brother Alf paid tribute to a man who "showed others what people with Down's syndrome could achieve". Alf, 76, said: "Everyone was really proud of Peter. When he was born handicapped children tended to be hidden away, but that was never the case with Peter. "My parents made sure he had his independence, and everyone knew him in the area. He was always smiling and was a proper little character."

Alf cared for Peter at the family home in Midmoor Road, Pallion, for 27 years after the death of their parents, Joe and Della. A keen knitter, rug-maker and puzzle-solver, Peter was always active and attended the Fulwell Training Centre for 40 years. One of Alf's proudest moments was in May when Peter, then aged 67, was recognised by Guinness as the oldest living man with Down's syndrome. He went on to extend the record by 215 days. In the last 12 months Peter's health had deteriorated as he developed dementia and Alf had to do everything for his brother – but he wouldn't have had it any other way. The former driver for the Little Sisters of the Poor said: "I wanted him to stay in the house he knew. He was very intelligent. His speech wasn't very good but I knew exactly what he meant."

On July 31 this year, Peter's health took a turn for the worse and he was admitted to hospital with a urinary blockage. This led to other complications and over the next few weeks he was in and out of temporary respite homes, as his condition was too severe for Alf to look after him. During this time he contracted MRSA and was unable to use his legs. Eventually he was admitted to Barnes Court Nursing Home where he spent h is final few weeks before he died from bronchial pneumonia and a heart attack. Brothers Joseph, 80, Alf and sister Maureen, 71, were by his side. Alf said: "We would visit him every day, so it was some comfort that we were there when he died. He didn't suffer." Neighbour Marie Wood also paid tribute to Peter and says he will be sadly missed in the area. She said: "He was a gorgeous man who was always friendly and smiling. He used to say that my seven-year-old son Jay was his best friend and Jay would make him cards and go round and watch TV with him. He will be a big miss in the neighbourhood." Alf said: "I just want to thank everybody who helped Peter on his last journey: Barnes Court, the Carers' Centre and Doctor Wilderman. All the neighbours have been marvellous as well."

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