In an exclusive interview and photoshoot with HELLO! magazine, Princess Diana's goddaughter Domenica Lawson has spoken about how much she loves her first job. The 24-year-old, who has Down's syndrome, works as a waitress at the Pavilion Gardens Café in Brighton for four hours a week. And, speaking with her mother – Diana's closest friend and confidante Rosa Monckton – to HELLO! she says she adores being employed.
"I love working here, it's amazing," Domenica told the magazine. "When I got my first pay packet I felt so happy and overwhelmed." Since starting work two months ago, she has saved up to treat her mother, father Dominic and sister Savannah on their recent holiday to Cornwall. "I bought them all drinks," she says excitedly. "And I got myself some make-up, too."
Princess Diana's goddaughter Domenica Lawson works in Brighton
Rosa adds: "Being taken out by Domenica was a big moment for us. It's extraordinary because even I, her mother, didn't realise exactly how much her first pay packet would mean to her. She leapt around saying: 'Look, I've got money!'
Since she started work, Domenica has blossomed and her self-confidence has soared. I was lucky enough to be with her when she was told she'd got the job and her reaction was incredible to behold. It's very simple, really. If someone believes in you, you start to believe in yourself."
Rosa believes that, were Diana alive today, she would still be their tower of support. "She would have been such a champion for Domenica. If Diana could see what she has achieved, considering the encouragement that she gave in the two years she knew her, she would have been incredibly proud."
In the interview, Rosa explains that her daughter helped find employment through her charity Team Domenica which helps young adults retain employment. It was Domenica's lack of employment prospects that spurred Rosa into setting up the programme, the first of its kind. "She took a catering course for people with learning disabilities but after she finished there was no work for her. That galvanised me into action because I thought: 'That's not right.' On our programme, Domenica really flourished. For the first time she was on a level playing field with other young people like her. We all need a peer group and suddenly she had one."
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