Winner: Olive Macmahon
6-year-old Olive had a stroke in February 2021, and an amazing team at GOSH gave her a life saving brain operation to protect the brain function.
The doctors said not to expect her to be able to walk, talk, sit up ever again. Her recovery has defied all odds, she is now in full time school, she has a lovely group of friends, she has danced a solo in a dance show, has swam in the sea and climbed a tree.
Her Mum Gemma says “So many people call her a miracle. But I see how courageously she works, it’s her strength and determination, she has learnt all that from Ability Therapies. She is our miracle and Ability Therapies are our heroes”.
Highly Commended: El Coyle
El is 10 years old and has Escobar Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder featuring joint contractures and respiratory distress. He has regular infections, multiple surgeries, is in daily pain and had to shield during lockdown. Shielding prevented him from attending school despite having previously enjoyed it. Despite these challenges, El is extremely thoughtful, fiercely loyal to friends and family, empathetic and brave, being willing to engage with ‘Kids Inspire’ to secure the support he needs at this time of his life.
Highly Commended: Maria Turkowska
Maria is 13 years old. Eight years ago, aged 5, she was involved in an accident.
Crossing a road with her father, she stepped out from a traffic island, catching her trousers under the wheels of a passing lorry, which span her round and round.
She has had over 50 operations since, missed primary school completely and spent much of her childhood in frames and casts.
She briefly attended secondary school part-time, but experienced difficulties and now stays at home.
In 2021, she was diagnosed with complex PTSD by ‘Kids Inspire’, where she receives therapeutic support. Maria’s parents describe her as 'very brave' and caring. She recently offered to donate her long hair to a children’s cancer charity who make wigs.
Highly Commended: Sidney McKie
Sidney was born with cerebral palsy and visual processing disorder. He was later diagnosed with Autism and ADHD. According to forecasts Sidney should never have walked or talked and would have to continue his life with severe difficulties of sight.
He has struggled with physio, speech and language therapies, and ever more therapies for his eyes. He still must wear painful splints and uses a wheelchair at times. He has no 3D vision or facial recognition; crowds are considerably difficult for him as he struggles processing motion. Noise and other sensory stimuli can overload his senses quickly. Despite all this he manages to attend a mainstream school, participates in all activities, goes to scout groups, swims and plays football. He will try anything and encourages everyone to do the same. He has tried abseiling and paddle boarding with his friends at Beavers. He has even tried tree surfing!
His Mum Monica said “He’s our hero for always thinking about others despite everything he’s been through. He is undergoing Botox to relax his legs, followed by very painful casting, whilst in the cast he cannot walk let alone play, yet he has managed to be recommended for the FA pathway for the para-Olympic football team.We just couldn’t be prouder of what our little hero has achieved”
Highly Commended: Matilda De Vries
Havens Hospices nominated Matilda, from Chelmsford for her fundraising efforts in memory of her sister Bella. Little Havens supported the family with regular respite, support and symptom management stays for 15 years and end of life care in August 2021.
With help from her mum Christine and dad Tony, Matilda wanted to celebrate Bella’s 16th birthday on 20th February (the first since she died) by collecting more than 400 toys for the hospice.
In addition to the toy drive, Matilda continues to fundraise in memory of her sister. She recently took part in a Nuclear Rush obstacle course with friends and family of Bella’s, the first of many challenges to raise money for the hospice. This August, she set a challenge to complete 60,000 star jumps because the family thinks all the hospice staff are stars. Matilda hopes to raise £6000 through her efforts and those of her friends and family.
In Matilda’s words
“My family and I would love to raise as much money as possible to help Little Havens continue to provide care to other children and families and to make sure they know just how special they all are.”