Callum Axford - Child of Courage Winner
Callum was born at 33 weeks with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, Cerebral Palsy, Chronic Lung Disease and Neurofibromatosis Type 1 including optic tumors. He had his first operation at 3 days old, and spent 8 months in Kings College NICU. Many times his family was told he wouldn't survive. When he came home no one knew if he would ever be able to walk or talk. Callum started walking when he was 4. Through determination and fight Callum has made magnificent progress and attends mainstream School, Thundersley Primary. Callum lights up the room, and makes everyone smile. He is a massive football fan, if you Google him you will see he is a friend of the stars having met footballer Ozil from Arsenal a few times, and sung with Alfie Boe at the Royal Albert Hall. Callum has even joined Westcliff Soccability and Horse Riding at Barleylands RDA. He is believed to be the only child with all these conditions, he is rare and unique, and an inspiration to everyone he meets. He has a fantastic younger Sister Sophie who is 5 and who helps him lots, to go up and down steps, and with his food, which has to be mashed. Callum is a Rays of Sunshine wish child, and has now become an ambassador for the charity, helping to raise awareness and funds. Recently Callum and Sophie pitched for Rays of Sunshine to be their Schools Charity for the day, and they won out of many charities! They raised the amazing amount of £2,185
Emma Degiorgio - Highly Commended
In 2015 Emma and her father James were
jointly highly commended for their fundraising.
On her own Emma has, since the age of 5 or 6,
raised money for her chosen charity,
Bloodwise. Emma’s ambition was to follow in
her father’s footsteps by cycling London to
Paris. She badgered her Dad until he agreed he
would grant permission providing she proved
she was capable by completing a 100-mile ride first! Which of course she
did with ease! She completed the three-day Paris trip, covering around
180 miles, and in so doing raised over £1,500 for the charity. Proud Dad
said: ‘Emma is the epitome of showing what children can do if they put
their mind to something’.
Billy Dreelan - Highly Commended
Billy was born with numerous issues including ADHD, OCD and Kidney problems. He was subject to serious bullying and taunting in school and was losing faith in his one love, football. Fortunately he stayed strong, slowly getting his love of the game back. He joined an Essex team, and his passion returned. In July of this year Billy was awarded with ‘The Players Player of the year’ and was one of the teams’ top scorers. In December 2018 Billy created a children’s Grotto in his Nan’s shed, for children who couldn't afford to see Santa. He had reason to be proud of himself as he raised £500 for the Hospital that had cared for his baby brother. Billy has overcome the bullies, and learned that he is loved regardless of his illnesses. He always has a smile, and forever is an inspiration. He acts as a mentor for other sick children, he says to them, "Look at me I’m ill and if I can do it so can you”. He is now a gold medallist athlete for his school and, despite all he has been through, his school attendance is perfect, academically he is thriving in mathematics. When he grows up Billy would love to fulfil his dream and play for Tottenham Hotspur. If not he hope's to teach sports to children just like himself.
Bella-Mai Gray Benorthan - Highly Commended
Bella-Mai was born premature at 30 weeks in very poor condition, she wasn’t expected to survive more than a couple of hours. After 11 months, in 3 specialist hospitals and numerous operations Bella-Mai was allowed home with stacks of medical equipment to keep her alive, oxygen, cpap, suction machine and feed pump. Bella-Mai has finally been diagnosed with a life-limiting syndrome called Coffin-Siris. There are only 200 known cases worldwide. Bella is in and out of hospital fighting infections, yet this little girl is always full of smiles. She had heart surgery and came out smiling; her strength really is an inspiration.
Bella-Mai’s Mother Jane says: ‘as a family we have to enjoy each day as if it could be her last. Bella-Mai spreads love and happiness, more than you could imagine and continues to defy everything that the medical professionals have said about her. It would be wonderful for as many people as possible to know of the strength and courage my little girl has. She has become an inspiration for other young disabled children and their parents, to keep going and realise that life can still be good/
William Goodson - Highly Commended
William has been poorly since birth. He has a rare genetic condition called Angelman Syndrome; William faces a life of therapy and one to one care, twenty-four hours a day. He is under Hospices in Ipswich and attends other various therapies weekly to improve his quality of life. He attends Waterbabies swimming where his achievements are
outstanding. He may not be able to walk but he can now balance on a
woggle and swim with support. His underwater photo is so popular the
hospice is even using it on the front page of their brochure around Essex,
Suffolk Norfolk and Cambridge.
William’s Auntie Sarah says, ‘you cannot fail to be impressed when
watching videos of him swimming, using his walking aids & learning to
communicate via a tablet’.
The last word should come from Williams Mum Emma,
‘I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t fallen in love with his cheeky disposition, his cuddles and love. For him to be like this despite all he goes through absolutely astounds us. I have a new hash tag, just for him, on my angelmum Facebook page (hash tag) #BeMoreWilliam because of his incredible courage and tenacity he inspires so many.’