A little kid who lost both legs due to maltreatment before winning the nation’s heart by earning £1.8 million through fundraising walks is embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to visit Father Christmas in Lapland.
Tony Hudgell, eight, expressed his joy when he arrived at Gatwick Airport this morning to begin his four-day journey.
He said he couldn’t wait to join the fun with reindeer and husky dogs, meet elves, and hunt through snow-covered woodlands for Santa’s hiding place while he prepares for Christmas.
Tony is traveling out with his adoptive parents, Paula and Mark Hudgell, and three of their young kids for the excursion, where they will stay in a log cabin.
Prince William and wife Kate have praised the boy as a hero for his incredible fundraising treks to support disadvantaged youngsters. After being motivated by Sir Captain Tom Moore, who raised more than £33 million walking in his backyard, he set out to walk 10km in 30 days in 2020 to raise £500 for the hospital that saved his life.
Last year, a charity established in his honor to improve the lives of kids affected by physical, mental, or psychological abuse supplied over 700 Christmas presents for kids in need, and he hopes to duplicate that this year.
And his efforts are going to be bolstered by Father Christmas himself, who plans to surprise the boy with a £5,000 donation to the Tony Hudgell Foundation.
Tony’s extraordinary accomplishments come despite a traumatic start to life that included 23 surgeries and eight blood transfusions.
When he was 41 days old, the inspiring kid was brought to the hospital with life-changing injuries after being abused by his parents, Jody Simpson and Tony Smith.
Both were convicted of child maltreatment in 2018 and are presently serving ten-year jail sentences.
Tony had both legs amputated in 2017 owing to traumas he experienced as a newborn. He is still learning to walk without crutches on prosthetic legs.
His fortunes improved after experts at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, of which the Princess of Wales is an official supporter, saved his life.
He was adopted by Paula and Mark of West Malling, Kent, and found a loving home.
The family has successfully advocated for lengthier terms for anybody that gravely damages a kid, and they are now seeking for an abuser registry.
When Tony found out about the trip, he was simply so pleased, Paula, who has been fighting colon cancer and had emergency surgery just six weeks ago, added. He’s always desired to meet the real Santa, so he’s overjoyed.
There has been quite a countdown in recent weeks. It truly will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s been on his bucket list for a long time.
They’ve always spoken about Lapland. It’s something they’ve always wanted to happen but have never been able to do. They can now, and it’s great, really incredible.
They’ve been looking forward to it for such a long time, Paula, 55, said of the last year and her own personal fight. She was told she had bowel cancer. It’s been a difficult year, and she had emergency surgery six weeks ago. Thankfully, everything is well now, and she can’t wait to spend time with his family and create some amazing memories.
The family’s relentless campaigning resulted in the establishment of Tony’s Law, named after the kid, which increased the maximum penalty for causing or enabling serious physical harm to a child from ten to fourteen years, while the maximum penalty for causing the child’s death increased from 14 years to life.
They are still fighting a personal struggle since Tony’s parents, who were about to be released from jail, have filed a judicial challenge when Justice Secretary Dominic Raab intervened to keep them behind bars.
A hearing was held in the High Court last week, and the family is expecting a decision, which they believe will keep Tony’s mom behind bars.
Tony, who was allowed special permission to undertake the journey by his school, got a moving letter from the Princess of Wales after completing his legendary trek.
She praised him for his “fantastic fundraising efforts,” which she described as “massively appreciated,” and added, they are all very proud of what he has accomplished.
He then met William and Kate, who spent ages’ conversing with the kid during last year’s Together At Christmas carol event at Westminster Abbey.
He’s also met Prince Harry and a slew of other celebrities, and he was singled out for inspiration earlier this year by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Despite the attention, Paula observed of Tony, He takes it all in stride, so to speak. He is really incredible. He’s a real people guy. He can take over a room and chat to everyone in it.
He has continued to raise funds for the charity. They’re running a Christmas gift drive. They were able to give 700 gifts to disadvantaged youngsters last year. They want to do the same or more this year.
‘Tony is fortunate, but it has come at a high price.
There are so many youngsters out there who, unfortunately, aren’t in his position, and if he can spread a little bit of magic for their Christmases as well, that’s what they aim to achieve.
Maybe one day Tony will realize there is a great legacy there, she continued. Everything has changed as a result of him, and child maltreatment is now treated more severely. ‘They continue to advocate for a child cruelty registry. They still have a lot of work to do.
Paula, who has eight kids, expressed her delight after Lapland holiday experts Canterbury Travel financed the family’s once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Despite his hectic schedule, the business was able to convince Santa to take a break from his Christmas preparations to give the check to Tony’s charity on their behalf.
It’s really amazing, Paula remarked of the excursion to isolated Luosto, which is located inside the Arctic Circle. They claimed they were going to give it to us as a gift due to Tony’s outstanding efforts with fundraising and altering the law.
It was wonderful that they were able to include the three youngest kids as well, because circumstances are difficult for them as well as many others.
They are happy to have been able to take Tony and his family to make unforgettable memories together in Lapland, said Jacqui Banham, Managing Director of Canterbury Travel. At Canterbury Travel, kids are at the core of all they do, and they completely support Tony’s charity. He is a motivation to all.
They are happy that he is enjoying the Christmas enchantment that he deserves while here with them in Santa’s winter paradise, said the family.