YOUNG Joshua Cool has been described as a “happy little chappy” – and that is all down to the incredible love and care of his amazing grandparents.
The eight-year-old’s face lights up as his grandmother, Pam Mandry, shakes a sensory toy playfully around him.
Pam, 51, and Tony, 50, have been nominated for the Mail’s Pride of Hartlepool Awards, but their focus has never moved from little Joshua –this is how it has been since they took care of the youngster and his sister, Casey, who is now 10, in 2004.
It was after a completely healthy Joshua, aged just 15 days old, was burned with a cigarette and shaken so violently by his father, Paul Cool, that he suffered severe brain injuries and bleeding to his eyes.
His head swelled up to twice its original size and his tongue puffed up to the point it wouldn’t fit in his mouth.
Joshua could never completely recover the vile attack and was diagnosed as being blind.
Had it not been for the intervention of Pam and Tony, young Joshua and Casey would have been taken into care.
But the kind-hearted couple put their lives on hold and it all happened just a year after Tony had underwent a triple heart by-pass operation.
Tony quit his job as a process operator while Pam, who worked as a cleaner, also had to hand in her notice.
They now spend every minute caring for Joshua, other than when he is at Springwell Primary School.
They make sure he gets his five bouts of medication every day, always have an eye on the suction machine attached to him to help with his breathing and swallowing and check on him numerous times every night.
They even need a camera set up in his room to check he is ok when he is asleep.
So it’s no surprise that Pam and Tony’s sister-in-law, Carolyn Mandry, 48, felt they were more than worthy nominations for the Local Hero category in this year’s Pride of Hartlepool Awards.
“I have every admiration for Tony and Pam,” said Carolyn, who lives in Fife Grove.
“At the age of 41 their lives changed completely.
“Joshua and Casey are very lucky to have them as grandparents, they are the most genuine kind-hearted people I know.
“They truly deserve not only the pride of Hartlepool, but the pride of Britain.”
For Tony and Pam, the nomination is nice, but they are quick to point out they don’t do it for the recognition - they do it for their love of their grandchildren.
“For us it was like starting all over again,” said Pam.
“You expect as grandparents to look after them on a weekend or a few nights a week, but me and Tony have never spent a week on our own for the last nine years.”
Joshua’s dad, Paul Cool, who was 22 at the time of the attack and lived in Garside Drive, Hartlepool, was jailed for seven years in 2005 and was released in March 2009.
Unsurprisingly Tony says he will never be able to forgive and forget. But instead of looking back with bitterness as to what happened, he focuses all of his energy on loving and caring for Joshua and Casey.
l The deadline for entries for this year’s Pride of Hartlepool Awards has now passed.
The inspirational stories behind the nominations will continue to appear in the Mail over the coming days before the winners of each category are decided by a panel of judges.