Courageous youngster's delight at meeting Prince Harry and Meghan at awards ceremony

An inspirational little girl who is battling a serious brain condition had a night to remember when she met Prince Harry and wife Meghan at a star-studded awards ceremony.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 17th October 2019, 12:12 pm

Lyla O’Donovan, whose dad Paul is from Hartlepool, met the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Tuesday night’s WellChild Awards ceremony in London which celebrate the courage of children coping with serious illnesses or complex conditions.

Lyla, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was three, was picked from hundreds of nominations from across the UK to win the Inspirational Child category in the awards run by WellChild, the national charity for seriously ill children, which Prince Harry is patron of.

She got to meet Harry and Meghan in a VIP area before the ceremony and again when she got her award on stage.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Lyla and dad Paul O'Donovan meet Prince Harry and Meghan at the WellChild 2019 awards. Picture by Antony Thompson - Thousand Word Media.

Lyla was chosen to receive the award for recognising the bravery of other children facing problems by sending out bravery certificates with her sister Lilley through Lyla and Lilley’s Stars.

It is despite everything she has gone through including many complications and eight operations, meningitis, hydrocephalus and having a VP shunt implanted to relieve pressure on her brain

Lyla’s mum, Kirsty O’Donovan, 33, said: “For Lyla, making other children happy is the best medicine.

“She is so proud of herself when she sees a picture of another child smiling as they open a certificate from her. She is the bravest child I know and takes everything in her stride.

Lyla charms Prince Harry on stage at the awards where she is joined by hosts Gaby Roslin and Radzi Chinyanganya and award winner Dexter Spence. Picture by Andrew Higgins/Thousand Word Media

“We are so proud that she has been recognised with this WellChild Award.”

The awards at the Royal Lancaster Hotel were hosted by TV presenters Gaby Roslin and Radzi Chinyanganya while magician Dynamo wowed the audience with his tricks.

Lyla was also picked out to join pop singer Pixie Lott on stage at the end of the night during her performance.

Dad Paul, 34, who serves in the Army and now lives near Durham, said: “It was absolutely amazing. Lyla was over the moon that she met a prince.

Lyla (front right) on stage with other winners at the WellChild Awards 2019 in association with GSK at the Royal Lancaster hotel. Picture by Andrew Higgins/Thousand Word Media

“Then she ended up on stage dancing with Pixie Lott who came and got her and took her on the stage.”

During his speech, Prince Harry said: “No parent wants to hear that their child will suffer; that they will face extraordinary challenges that will affect them throughout their lives.

“And yet, after meeting all of the WellChild parents and the kids themselves over the years, you’ve managed to give all of us a sense of optimism, a sense of hope and strength that no professional, no bestselling book and no amount of advice can ever give any of us.

“So thank you for being you.”