The Peterborough Telegraph’s Pride in Peterborough Awards celebrated the very best of the city - with inspirational youngsters taking centre stage.
Child of Courage Award, sponsored by Stars Day Nurseries Joint winners: Benjamin Hardy and Angel Sabu.
Benjamin Hardy was born in August last year with just half a heart and has been fighting just to stay alive ever since doctors said he had just a 30 per cent chance of surviving when he was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome while mum Ashley - from Orton Goldhay - was still pregnant. He needed a heart transplant - but because of his condition, his requirements were very specific - and as the wait for a suitable donor turned from days to weeks, and weeks to months, hopes a suitable donor would be found in time diminished. But, despite the slim odds of survival Benjamin, his family, and doctors at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital continued to fight for his life while he was hundreds of miles from home - and earlier this year he was given the ‘gift from an angel’ - a heart transplant. Despite the good news for Benjamin, the family’s thoughts were with the family of the child whose heart would be transplanted. Benjamin’s mum Ashley said: “I was happy for Benjamin, but it was really mixed emotions, because you are grieving for that family as well - they have just saved my son.
“They have no idea what they have done for him . They have no idea how much it means. They saved him.”
However the family know Benjamin won’t outlive them - because it is not a permanent cure.
Doctors discovered that Angel Sabu, from Netherton, had tumours on both her kidneys when she was three months old and chemotherapy to treat her was unsuccessful. She was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital for surgery to remove both her kidneys and she is now on the kidney transplant waiting list. Angel attends the hospital three times a week for dialysis. Earlier this year Angel featured in Paul O’Grady’s Little Heroes TV programme when family friends and staff came to the Eagle Ward to celebrate Angel’s fourth birthday party.
The Young Achiever of the Year Award Joint Winners: Hannah Thompson and Ryley Briston.
Teenager Hannah is defying her own illness to help good causes. Hannah was diagnosed three years ago with neurally mediated syncope with orthostatic hypotension - which means she faints without warning - and heart conditions. Hannah has been fundraising for some time - she used to run Macmillan Cancer Support coffee events when she was attending Nene Valley Primary School, and raised money for the son of a family friend who was terminally ill with a rare form of Battens disease. Hannah says this is her way of giving something back to those that have helped her. More recently she has been raising money for the Amazon Ward at Peterborough City Hospital, Macmillan, Alzheimer’s Society and the Lewis Jeynes Battens Disease Fund . Mum Julie is understandably very proud of her “inspirational” daughter.
Sixteen-year-old Ryley attended Bourne Grammar School, played football for Blackstones u14 team and ran competitively for Nene Valley Harriers. In May 2016 after returning home from playing football in the park with his friends, Ryley suffered a massive seizure. He was rushed to Peterborough City Hospital then transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where they found he had a massive bleed on his brain. He underwent surgery and was put into an induced coma and monitored and cared for on PICU (intensive care) at Addenbrooke’s for five weeks. Ryley’s brain has been left with considerable damage due to a prolonged period of oxygen starvation. Ryley’s diagnosis and rehabilitation led to a #Root4Ryley campaign being set up to raise funds for his treatment and adaptations to the family home in Baston. Fundraising activities have included the sale of Root4Ryley wristbands, a football match and a ball organised by a friend, supported by Bourne, Deepings and Stamford Round Table.
Fundraiser of the Year; Winner: Louis King
Youngster Louis King, from Crowland, was given the chance to become a mascot at a Peterborough United match three years ago thanks to city charity The Free Kicks Foundation - and now has been raising money to give something back to the cause. Posh fan Louis, who has Down’s Syndrome, has been fundraising to help other youngsters have a fantastic football experience. Louis decided he was going to spend 2018 raising money to give to the Free Kicks Foundation so they can send 18 disadvantaged children on similar experiences to the one that he was so lucky to be selected for previously. Louis’ “18 for 18” has raised around £7,800 to date through a number of special events and sponsorship challenges this year including quizzes, a sponsored swim and other fundraising events.
Highly commended in this category was Mohammed Farooq, who runs the Maharanis restaurant in Hampton. He raised £70,000 to buy a crucial piece of lifesaving equipment - a Cardiac Echo Machine for Peterborough City Hospital.
Mohammed said that achieving this was one of the most special moments of his life. The money was raised by holding special charity nights at his restaurant - and also setting up a special menu to raise more money.
Mr Farooq - who was awarded the British Empire Medal last year after raising tens of thousands of pounds for a range of charities in the past- visited the hospital earlier this year to deliver the good news - and the final cheque.
He said: “Because it has been such a challenge, completing the campaign in such a small amount of time it really is a very special moment.
“It is a legacy I can leave for others. The machine has a life span of 15 years, and it is such an important piece of equipment.”
The Cardiac Echo Machine will help specialists diagnose heart problems in young children at an early age.”
Also highly commended in this category was brave teenager Hannah Thompson, who featured in the Young Achiever category. She has been praised for her fundraising despite battling with illness which sees her faint without warning. Mum Julie said: “She is just 16 years old and is a true inspiration - she really does deserve support and praise for all she has done and is doing for charity.”
Hero to Animals Award: Winner: Kaitlin Brand
Kaitlin realised at just six years of age that she wanted to devote herself to helping animals - having spent her birthday at the Exotic Pet Refuge in Deeping St james.
She wanted to volunteer but because she was too young that was not possible. However, determined to help in some way she fundraised and sponsored animals by selling personal belongings and arranging Teddy tombolas.
She attended open days throughout the years with various stalls and used the money she made to sponsor an animal and donate to the Pet Refuge. At eight years of age she discovered a flair for jewellery making and further used the money she made to sponsor animals and donate to the Refuge. Over the last four years our she has attended most of the refuge’s open days, sponsored 18 animals at £25 and donated £4000 in cash.