The WellChild Awards, in association with GSK, celebrate the inspirational qualities of the UK’s seriously ill children and young people, along with those who go that extra mile to make a difference to their lives.
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Meet the 2023 WellChild Award winners
INSPIRATIONAL CHILD 4 TO 6 YEARS AWARD
Six-year-old Violet Seymour was born with a brain condition. In five years, she has undergone multiple brain surgeries and other medical procedures to manage ongoing problems. Violet now has to cope with hydrocephalus, a damaged spinal cord, a condition called neuropathic bladder and breathing problems. With frequent infections she continues to miss time at school and with her friends which she finds hard. Despite this Violet doesn’t complain but faces her adversity with courage, kindness, and humility. When she is in hospital Violet is more concerned about the wellbeing of the other children and tries to make things better for them. Last year she secretly donated some of her own Christmas presents to children staying in hospital. Violet remains ambitious and keen to try new things, such as gymnastics, even though she knows it will be challenging. Although her brain condition is currently stable, Violet’s family know that this can change at any time, and she may need further operations. Her mother, Holly Kieser, describes Violet as the bravest girl she knows, determined to live life to the full and not ashamed of things like her stoma bag so she can show people that inclusion is important.
INSPIRATIONAL CHILD 7 TO 11 YEARS AWARD
11-year-old George Hall has severe health problems meaning he has a tracheotomy, pacemaker, and complete heart block. He is also tube fed and relies on life support machines every night. George has been in and out of hospital his whole life and has undergone hundreds of procedures to help with his complex medical needs. Despite his array of medical issues, George’s spirit is unbreakable, and he always remains brave and positive. It is this positive attitude and drive to live life to the fullest that makes George truly remarkable. Last year George won the Yorkshire Schools Cross Country Accessible Race final, where he was commended by the organisers for his determination to never give up, something that those who know him often comment on. When he’s at home George enjoys cooking, drama, and football. George is known for his selflessness, always thinking of others before himself. George’s Grandmother, Nicola, said, “Winning this WellChild Award will raise George’s confidence and his spirits massively. He’s been through so much since he was born, but especially over the past year. He’s our hero and his fighting but always fun spirit deserves recognition.”
INSPIRATIONAL YOUNG PERSON 12 TO 14 YEARS AWARD
Teenager Hayley has cerebral palsy diplegia and a displaced hip as well as other complex medical needs. Hayley requires daily physiotherapy sessions, but she always remains positive. Hayley is determined to not only live her life to the fullest, but also help others in need. She has raised over £100k for charity by singing in her choir and strives to encourage those around her. Hayley also excels at sport. She has won numerous medals for wheelchair basketball and is on the England pathway for Great Britain and plays for the Sheffield Steelers. She also plays wheelchair rugby for team GB’s development team as well as Leicester Tigers and Yorkshire Lions Wheelchair Rugby. Hayley is an advocate for the power of sport and has even promoted it on CBeebies. Hayley won’t allow her needs to slow her down. She says: “I’m not disabled, I’m differently abled’, a truly positive attitude which people who meet her often comment on. Describing Hayley as a hero, Hayley’s Mum Susan who nominated her for the award said: “I’m in awe of her. Hayley is an amazing and inspirational child who always promotes wellbeing. She has pushed through so much adversity, and she oozes positivity, fun and encouragement.”
INSPIRATIONAL YOUNG PERSON 15 TO 18 YEARS AWARD
Teenager Blake McCaughey has a very complex and incredibly rare genetic condition which means he has weakened muscles and can’t eat or drink. Blake has been in and out of hospital his whole life and undergone hundreds of medical procedures including open heart surgery, the insertion of a feeding tube and an operation to separate his stomach from his liver. He uses a wheelchair most of the time, receives nutrition through a feeding tube and recently spent seven months in hospital for operations and treatment to reduce some of his chronic pain. He remained resilient throughout and spread cheer to the hospital team with his infectious smile and fun antics. Blake decorated his hospital room like a Christmas grotto and put on festive outfits. For Halloween he dressed up as his doctor, Professor De Coppi, sporting scrubs and a painted-on beard to mark the doctor’s birthday and make everyone laugh. Professor De Coppi, a Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital, describes Blake as an incredibly resilient young man whose smile and strength are a great source of joy. Having lived in hospital in London or Belfast for most of the past four years, Blake loves it when he is home and can spend time with his family and three dogs.
CARING CHILD AWARD
Six-year-old Poppy is the devoted little sister of 16-year-old Paige, who requires 24/7 care to manage her complex health needs. The challenges Paige faces include severe epilepsy and hyperinsulinism. She needs help to breathe, eat and move and is often rushed to hospital where she has to spend long periods of time. Poppy’s life must work around her sister’s needs, but she never complains, even when special events like birthday celebrations are cancelled or disrupted. Instead, Poppy steps up to help, willing to do anything she can to make life better for Paige. Poppy always wants to include her sister in everything she does and is happiest when Paige is happy too. The girls have an amazing bond with Paige’s eyes lighting up when Poppy comes into the room, or when she sings or reads to her. Poppy has even overcome her natural shyness to support fundraising efforts for the local hospice which supports Paige. Poppy is a kind and caring little girl who copes amazingly despite the uncertainties in her life and the fact she misses out on so much other children her age would take for granted. The girls’ mother, Stacey, believes Poppy deserves to understand just how special she is and how much her family appreciate the help she gives.
14-year-old Ruky has a form of brittle bone disease and is entirely adult dependent for his mobility and care needs. Ruky has undergone many surgeries and has suffered from numerous fractures and pains due to his condition. A recent major surgery to correct his scoliosis was followed by a difficult recovery, leaving Ruky in braces. His condition means that he has to take frequent time away from school and away from his friends until it’s safe for him to return. Despite his challenges, Ruky has developed into a chatty, fun loving and witty young man and has been recognised at school for his hard work, particularly that he stays behind at school three days a week to catch up at homework club. Ruky is a budding musician and has even released a single titled ‘Watch Me Now’ which was released on his 14th birthday and is dedicated to everyone with his condition. Commenting on his ‘unbreakable spirit’, Ruky’s Mum, Ufuoma who nominated him for the award said:, “Ruky has been through a lot in the past few years. Winning a WellChild Award will be a big confidence and morale booster for him and encourage him to achieve even more.’’
Mum to seriously ill two-year-old, Leo, Lucinda campaigns tirelessly for Leo and other children with the same severe and unpredictable neurodegenerative disorder. Leo was born with TBCD, a gene mutation condition affecting his brain and nervous system which causes his muscles to become progressively weaker. Although Lucinda was advised to resign herself to having her baby son for a short time, she decided to fight for him. With hydrotherapy and physiotherapy Leo is making great progress but still has seizures and increasing difficulty moving and breathing. Lucinda is not only Leo’s mum, but also his carer and nurse, much of which she undertakes on her own. Her awareness raising on TikTok has gained thousands of followers and she has also helped set up a charity for children with TBCD. Despite this and her exhausting caring duties, Lucinda also campaigns to fundraise for research into treatments and supports other families when they receive this devastating diagnosis for their babies, making personal calls to check how they are coping. Lucinda’s friend, Rebecca Symonds describes her as ‘the kindest person I know’ and is grateful that Lucinda is being recognised as a wonderful mother who leaves no stone unturned in her fight for Leo and all children with TBCD.
Lancing nurse, Hannah Lines is a ventilation nurse specialist at Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice in West Sussex. Hannah helps families access support services and ensures that staff are trained in the latest techniques to assist ventilated children and young people. Hannah is always seeking new ways to care for these families. She makes sure that, despite the challenges they face, these children have opportunities to play, participate in activities such as swimming, and socialise with their peers. Her dedication and calm manner does not go unnoticed by the families she works with. Laura Mcloughlin’s son Lennon was born with multiple complex needs. They first met Hannah at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Brighton where she helped Laura prepare for Lennon returning home with support after nearly three years in hospital. They were reunited years later in Hannah’s new role at the hospice where Laura was delighted that she and Lennon would once again benefit from Hannah’s ‘can-do’ attitude, empathy and reassurance. When Lennon lost his fight to live, Hannah’s presence in those final, precious moments gave his mother strength and an important sense of privacy. Laura explained that Hannah made the toughest journey of her life seem like there was always light, with someone she trusted standing alongside and fighting for her and her son.
Nell is a chaplain from Rugby who works across Warwickshire with children and families who have complex and life-limiting illnesses. She provides support by spending quality time with these children and families. She dedicates time to talk with them, understand them and explore their worries, to allow them to enjoy their lives to the fullest. Nell’s work has been massively impactful across a huge variety of cases. Nell was determined to continue supporting the children and families she works with during the Covid-19 pandemic so introduced her famous ‘walking chats’, which took place in all weathers. Nell has also provided valuable emotional support for her colleagues who work in palliative and complex care for children. It was Nell’s colleague, Dr Cheryle Adams, who nominated her for the WellChild Award. Dr Adam’s said “Nell’s work is such an important part of the care given to the children, young people, and families we look after and yet is often unnoticed due to its nature. Winning this WellChild Award will highlight how important it is that this support is available to those who need it. I also hope it will inspire other chaplaincies, teams, and trusts to prioritise timely provision of pastoral support and show what is possible.”
Richard has been a Paediatric Respiratory Consultant at St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation since 2010. Since then, he has spearheaded significant developments in the service. Colleagues and families of children in his care jumped at the chance to nominate him for a WellChild Award. He is described as an outstanding doctor who works relentlessly to provide the best possible care for children needing long-term ventilation and support with respiratory problems. Examples of Richard’s dedication and selflessness include dropping equipment to a family home when they had challenges coming into hospital and undertaking home visits in his own time. He has also raised more than £10,000 for charities through bike rides and has developed the St George’s Schools Emergency Asthma Bag programme which has donated emergency asthma kits to several schools across London. He is praised for his kindness, empathy, and determination to listen to children and make them feel valued. Parents are grateful for the way Richard ensures their children are given a voice which benefits their physical and emotional wellbeing. WellChild Nurse Alex McClements who works with Richard said: “He is truly an inspiration to work with. His passion for the service is apparent in all his work.”
Kelvin is a carer from Bodmin who has set up and runs an inclusive social club for young people with
special educational needs and disabilities. Kelvin’s wife, Sam, nominated him for the WellChild Award to celebrate the phenomenal work he does in his own time for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Inspired by his daughter who has a complex set of health conditions including Cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and scoliosis, Kelvin has set up and now runs a group called ‘Equally Abled’. The group takes place at a Gaming Cafe called The Pad where Kelvin works and allows young people with complex medical conditions and disabilities to ‘hang out’ like any other teenagers. The group has had such a positive impact on the young people’s lives and as been so successful that now Kelvin has set up a second group called ‘Equally Abled Junior’ aimed at younger people with various complex needs and disabilities. Sam said “He has made a huge difference in so many young peoples’ lives. They are no longer isolated; they belong. They have friends like other teenagers, and they have a safe place to meet and be themselves where they don’t have to suppress their feelings, tics, or sensory needs. I’m extremely proud of him and what he does within our community, and he fully deserves some recognition’.
What our guests say about the prestigious event!
Gaby Roslin, Celebrity Ambassador “The highlight of the WellChild Awards is meeting the young people, meeting the families and then meeting all those incredible professionals. There’s never a year that goes by where I don’t go home and feel completely in awe of all of them.”
2018 WellChild Award winner Evie "Evie’s WellChild Award is a valuable and powerful motivator as it recognises her achievements and everything she can do. I cannot over emphasise how important this has been for Evie’s mental health." – Evie’s mum, Caroline
Samantha Quek, Celebrity Ambassador "It's truly the most inspirational, humbling night you will ever come to. It's just one of those nights which is one of a kind."
PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE EVENT