Battling Jack’s year to remember after picking up Child of Courage award

Child of Courage winner Jack Stevens with dad Chris and mum Ashton at last year's awards.

Child of Courage winner Jack Stevens with dad Chris and mum Ashton at last year's awards.

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Courageous Jack Stevens has had a year to remember as he continues to win his fight with a serious heart condition.

The two-year-old made Hartlepool Mail headlines last year when he won a Child of Courage trophy for the brave way he coped with nine bouts of surgery in the first 15 months of his life. Now, one year on, he’s walking and talking for the first time.

And proud dad Chris Stevens, 31, told how it had been a year of highlights.

“He was two in December and he is fully walking. He has started saying a few words and there’s been very little in terms of hospital visits.

“He’s had one or two chest infections, but that is about it.”

All that is in stark contrast to Jack’s early life. He spent his first six months in a hospital bed and had four open heart operations, five other surgical procedures, suffered a stroke and was resuscitated three times.

Jack was born with a condition known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which means the left side of his heart did not form. His medical treatment has included a number of operations, including one where surgeons told his dad Chris and mum Ashton Hodge, 27, from the Seaton Carew area, there was a 30 per cent chance he would not survive.

Jack’s courage was recognised at our annual awards last year, where he was one of four youngsters to pick up a Child of Courage award.

Chris said: “It was a really good night and I was so proud of him.

“We enjoyed it and it was lovely to see the other children and all the other people there. It was an emotional night after what we had been through. I would definitely encourage other people to enter this year’s awards.”

To nominate someone, fill in the form on this page or go online and enter at www. jpne-events.co.uk.

Child of Courage is part of the Best of Hartlepool competition, which is being held in association with Niramax, and in which Specsavers are category sponsors.

The deadline for entries is Saturday, April 2. After that, judges will draw up a shortlist for each of the categories listed below.

And then it’s on to the grand final, which will be held this year at the Hardwick Hall Hotel on Tuesday, April 26.