Magnificent seven: Meet our children of courage

Ian Walker  with Children of Courage award winners and family members at the Best of Hartlepool awards night at the Hardwick Hall Hotel in Sedgefield.
Ian Walker with Children of Courage award winners and family members at the Best of Hartlepool awards night at the Hardwick Hall Hotel in Sedgefield.
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Seven brave children stole the show when an awards night heard of their amazing courage.

What an incredible shortlist we had for the Children of Courage category of our Best of Hartlepool Awards.

Harley and Archie Garthwaite.

Harley and Archie Garthwaite.

The only question was –who would win the category sponsored by Specsavers.

The answer was ..... every one of them because they are all heroes.

And here are their inspiring stories.

l Little fighters ARCHIE AND HARLEY GARTHWAITE are three-year-old twins.

We are over the moon. All the children of courage totally deserve this, each and every one of them

Jamie Rowbotham, father of Child of Courage Leyton Anderson

They were born 17 weeks early weighing less than 2lb each. Both had holes in their hearts and had gruelling open heart surgery at just two weeks old.

They have made an amazing recovery but Archie has been left with cerebral palsy, and will need pioneering surgery abroad to improve his mobility. Mum Hayley Kennedy said: “It is amazing how far they have come and they are still fighting.

“It is amazing that people have seen the stories about the boys and thought these little boys were deserving of the award.”

l Hartlepool’s princess, KEISHA WATSON showed astonishing courage in her fight with cancer.

Leyton Anderson.

Leyton Anderson.

Last February, she was given the last rites by a priest at her hospital bed when all hope seemed lost.

But Keisha, how five, refused to give in. And even though she still has to attend hospital 35 times a year for chemotherapy in her legs and stomach, and bone marrow lumbar punctures, she is winning her fight for life.

Her mum Natalie Watson, said: “I am speechless and in shock. When Keisha found out she had won she was really happy and I am over the moon.

“It means a lot to win and I want to thank everybody for their support for what they have done.”

Keisha Watson.

Keisha Watson.

l EVIE MCCABE wasn’t expected to live longer than five hours.

Her fight for life began almost as soon as she was born. She has a number of health conditions including four-limb cerebral palsy, epilepsy, extensor spasms, microcephaly, severe neonatal encephalopathy, and hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy.

The five-year-old youngster wasn’t well enough to attend the ceremony but her big sister Jersey, nine, and mum Shelley Coull collected the award on her behalf. Jersey said: “I am very proud of my little sister. When she is in hospital I do miss her. I am proud to be her big sister and I am really pleased to collect this award on her behalf.”

l Ten-year-old ELLY MAE WAUGH was only diagnosed with leukaemia last July after her parents found bruises and pinprick spots over her body.

She faced five months in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and has had lumbar punctures, liver biopsies, numerous rounds of chemotherapy, and 30 injections of medicine every day.

As she held her award, she said: “It is a bit tough but it is okay.”

Evie McCabe.

Evie McCabe.

Dad Dean Waugh said: “The awards were a night when you think of how special she is.”

l LEYTON ANDERSON, four, surprised doctors with his constantly happy outlook on life despite battling cancer and facing a constant round of chemotherapy, lumbar punctures and visits to hospital.

Ultra proud mum Dawn said: “We never expected to be getting anything like this award but it is brilliant. It is special.”

Dawn’s partner Jamie Rowbotham, 33, is Leyton’s dad, and said: “We are over the moon. All the children of courage totally deserve this, each and every one of them.”

Leyton has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – a cancer of the white blood cells – and faces three and a half years more chemotherapy.

l OLIVER SMART was unable to walk after a rare form of childhood cancer neuroblastoma left him paralysed from the waist down when he was just eight months old.

He’s now four and has inspired his family and friends by staying positive.

Mum Mandy Smart said: “There were a lot of very brave children there. We will be putting this award on the mantelpiece.”

Mandy said, for her, the highlight of the awards night was watching all of the courageous children and “seeing the smiles on their faces” when they were all declared as winners.

Oliver Smart with mum Mandy.

Oliver Smart with mum Mandy.

Elly Mae Waugh.

Elly Mae Waugh.