The loving Hartlepool 4-year-old who has a whole devoted family of carers around him

Meet Toby Baister - the loving Hartlepool four-year-old with a whole devoted family of carers around him.

Toby has Down’s syndrome. He also has a total zest for life.

Mum Leanne described him as ‘very humorous, very gorgeous and such a friendly and loving little boy”.

"He is cheeky, giggly, very mischievous and he is very social,” said mum who also works as a Learning Disability Community Nurse.

The Baister family.

But he also loves to explore, especially water and liquids. He will also try to grab hot and sharp things.

‘We can’t completely relax and we always have to have eyes on him,” said Leanne.

His life is filled with amazing love from mum Leanne, 42, dad Kevin, 38, who are both registered carers, and big brother Zak, seven, who is registered as a young carer.

Leanne spoke to the Hartlepool Mail as part of our spotlight on the army of 12,000 town people who look after loved ones.

Such a loving little boy. That's Toby Baister 4.

She praised the support her family gets from the Hartlepool Carers group.

"Hartlepool Carers are amazing,” said Leanne. “They and 1 Hart 1 Mind 1 Future were the only charities that we got so much support from during Covid and lockdown.

"We do lots of things with them and we have contact with other families and meet other people with Downs Syndrome.”

Leanne reduced her working hours when she had her children and said the support Toby needs meant she was ‘balancing lots of plates and making sure none of them drop’.

Leanne and Kevin Baister with children Toby, 4 and brother Zack, 7.

Toby has developmental delay and learning disabilities but is in mainstream education and gets outstanding support from Fens Primary School, said Leanne.

Christmas means Toby will be at home more. "It is a lovely time of year because we can spent time together,” said Leanne. “But Toby also has sensory needs and he gets in to everything. He doesn’t understand the risks.

"He is very fixed on water and liquids. He will drop a drink and play with it. He loves sensory play.”

Toby also tires quicker than other children and ‘tries twice as hard to achieve’ said Leanne.

A thumbs-up for Christmas from Toby Baister 4.

Toby and his family are just one of thousands of families which get excellent support from Hartlepool Carers.

Chief executive Christine Fewster said: “We have many families looking after children with additional needs across Hartlepool and Leanne supports in raising the profile of parent carers across the town.

"Raising a child with additional needs is something many families do not envisage, it becomes a whole new world.

“Leanne is one of our parent carers who helps new families going through diagnostic processes and provides opportunities in our community. She is a fabulous mum providing exceptional care to her sons.”

To help give support, it launched initiatives during the pandemic.

Young carer Zack Baister,7 takes care of his younger brother Toby, 4 who has Downs syndrome.

In May 2020, it started a support system offering advice over the phone. More than 18 months later, it is still there for Hartlepool carers who need help and support.

To find out more, contact (01429) 283095.

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Brotherly love from young carer Zack Baister,7 who takes care of his younger brother Toby, 4.
Leanne and Kevin Baister with son Toby.
Leanne and Kevin Baister with children Toby, 4 and brother Zack, 7.