A Swindon man with Down's Syndrome has overcome perceptions to get accepted on an apprentice course to become a fully qualified scaffolder. 

32-year-old Todd Scanlon, who has worked at Coles Scaffolding for three years, has been given a place on scaffolding training Scheme at Weston College, in what his boss Martyn Coles believes could be a UK first. 

"We’ve been fighting for this for the last 18 months, maybe two years, to get heard and to show that Todd that more than capable of achieving what he wants to achieve," Martyn said. 

Read: Swindon scaffolder with Down's syndrome named UK's best apprentice

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"It's often been the same old story – it’s the unknown, no-one with Todd’s condition has challenged them so they say no because they're looking at things that could go wrong rather than thinking ‘well, actually this lad can do it’."

Todd will be put through the course at his own pace, with no deadline, and will receive one-to-one support to get his certified Construction Industry Scaffolding Record Scheme (CISRS) card and then progress to get his NVQs and eventually become a fully-qualified scaffolder, something that would mean a lot to both him and Martyn. 

"That would be massive, it would be phenomenal, there’s a good chance he will do it, no-one’s ever done this ever, so it's trial and error.

"But, no-one with down syndrome in the whole of the construction industry has done this, so we're setting the benchmark."

Swindon Advertiser: The Coles Scaffolding teamThe Coles Scaffolding team

For Martyn, and his team at the firm, it's a payoff for the hard work they've put in supporting and helping Todd achieve his dream. 

“I'm just proper overwhelmed and proud because the way it come across for so long was that every door was being shut, but now I’m proud as hell.”

Todd added that he was looking forward to his next challenge. 

"I'm really proud of what I've done. I really enjoy scaffolding and I'm looking forward to going to college", he said.

He was hired after begging Martyn for a job, which was something that raised some eybrows from others in the industry.

Since then the pair have been campaigning for construction work to become a more inclusive place by working together. 

They've gone on to see a lot of success in changing attitudes towards hiring people with disabilities, including Down's Syndrome, Todd won a national award for 'best apprentice' at the On The Tools Awards in 2019 and in 2021 the firm won a special recognition award at the construction industry's Total Awards.

"At first, I think they were hesitant towards him working in that industry, still negative people, but a lot of people, the majority of people have seen him and seen what he’s capable of, and seen its not just a gimmick or a quick thing."

"What Todd’s message is showing is that anyone can achieve their goals if they want to and have the right people around them, all of the lads have been amazing with him and helping him ."