United Kingdom

Boy, five, who had his legs amputated raises £145,000 for NHS after Captain Tom Moore inspired him

A brave five-year-old, who had both of his legs amputated as a baby after suffering horrific abuse from his birth parents, has raised more than £145,000 for the NHS after being inspired by Captain Tom Moore.

Tony Hudgell, from West Malling, Kent, has vowed to walk every day in June to raise money for Evelina London Children's Hospital.

He will walk a total of 10km to fundraise for the hospital that saved his life when he was only five weeks old.

The courageous boy decided to start fundraising after he was inspired by Captain Tom Moore, who used his frame to walk laps of his home in the run-up to his 100th birthday during the coronavirus pandemic.

Five-year-old Tony Hudgell, from West Malling, Kent, (pictured) has vowed to walk every day in June to raise money for Evelina London Children's Hospital

'Look, he's like me!': Tony was inspired by Captain Tom Moore (pictured), who used his frame to walk laps of his home in the run-up to his 100th birthday amid the coronavirus pandemic

Tony appeared on BBC Breakfast on Saturday morning with his adoptive parents Paula and Mark Hudgell, and has since received more than £130,000 in less than 24 hours.

Tony had to have both legs surgically removed after horrific abuse inflicted on him by his birth parents when he was just 41 days old.

He was rushed to hospital in November 2014 with multiple organ failure, several fractures and even sepsis, leaving him on life support at the Evelina London Children's Hospital. His legs had to be amputated in 2017.

When he was discharged from hospital at four months old, he was put into the foster care of Paula, 52, and Mark, 55, who later adopted him.

Now, after being fitted with his first pair of artificial legs earlier this year, Tony has vowed to walk 10km to raise money and say thank you to the hospital.

What may seem like an easy task to some is a 'huge mountain' for Tony, as the courageous boy has spent the coronavirus lockdown learning to walk using his crutches.

The brave double amputee has already raised a staggering £145,000 in just hours, after appearing on BBC Breakfast on Saturday morning

Tony had to have both legs surgically removed as the result of horrific abuse and multiple bones fractures inflicted on him by his birth parents when he was just 41 days old. He was later put into the care of adoptive parents Paula and Mark Hudgell

Tony had already raised more than £1,000 before setting off on his first day on Monday and has now raised a staggering £145,000 - much more than his original £509 target.

The little boy was thrilled to receive a video message from Tom Moore's daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and grandchildren Georgia and Benji after his BBC Breakfast appearance.

They wished him all the best on his challenge and said they are 'so proud' of him.

Tony's mum Paula said from the family home in Kings Hill, Kent: 'Tony has been trying so hard with his crutches and it's gruelling for him.

'But then he saw Captain Tom on the news and said "Look, he's like me!"

'So we decided that if Tony got a little bit stronger on his crutches he could set himself his own challenge.

'He is such a bright, determined and confident boy that him wanting to do something like this doesn't surprise me, even when I consider his terrible start in life.

'He was just weeks old when he suffered appalling abuse from his birth parents and left seconds from death.'

Tony was thrilled to receive a video message from Tom Moore's grandson Benji (left), daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore (centre right) and granddaughter Georgia (right). They wished him the five-year-old the best on his challenge and said they are 'so proud' of him

 As well as needing to have both legs amputated at the knee in 2017, Tony suffers from a left hip dislocation and missing ball joint due to infection, hand problems and is deaf in his right ear

Tony has suffered from other problems due to the abuse, including deafness in his right ear, but is described by his parents as a 'bright, happy and confident little boy who loves life'.

Paula said: 'I can never repay the doctors, nurses and staff at the Evelina for what they did for him in those early days, and continue to do as part of his on-going treatment.

'As well as the need to have both legs amputated at the knee in 2017, Tony still suffers from a left hip dislocation and missing ball joint due to infection, hand problems and is deaf in his right ear - all a result of the abuse.

'The Evelina has become a second home for him and the staff are like family.

'We also have many friends working there on the NHS frontline caring for very poorly children with Covid-related Kawasaki disease.

'This is just our little way of helping them at this difficult time. Tony started on Monday June 1 and aims to walk a little every day, keeping a tally until he hopefully reaches his 10km target.

'It may seem like an easy task but this will be a huge achievement for Tony, and he'll need every bit of encouragement along the way!' 

Tony Hudgell (pictured middle), now five, appeared on This Morning at the end of March via video link with his adoptive parents Paula and Mark Hudgell (pictured) at their home in West Malling, Kent

Tony has started mainstream school and is described as a 'bright, happy and confident little boy who loves life' by Paula and Mark

Tony, who is a Chelsea football fan, also appeared on This Morning with his adoptive parents at the end of March to speak about his new prosthetic legs.

He was surprised with a video message from Chelsea star Frank Lampard, 41, who promised him free match tickets as the 'guest of honour' when 'the world goes back to normal' following the coronavirus crisis.

Paula and Mark fought successfully to bring their son's abusers - birth parents Jody Simpson and Tony Smith - to justice in February 2018.

They were each handed maximum jail terms of 10 years after being found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court, Kent, of child cruelty and causing or allowing serious harm to a child.

Since then, Tony has started mainstream school and also inspired Paula to campaign with Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat for tougher punishments for those convicted of such crimes. 

To sponsor Tony's 10km walk in aid of Evelina London Children's Hospital, visit his JustGiving page.

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