A little boy who was so badly abused by his biological parents that both his legs were amputated has raised more than £360,000 for Evelina Children’s Hospital after being inspired by Captain Tom.
Five-year-old Tony Hudgell aims to walk ten kilometres on his new crutches to raise money for the hospital that saved his life.
Tony was suffering from multiple fractures, dislocations and blunt trauma when Paula and Mark Hudgell, from West Malling in Kent, first became his foster carers in 2015.
His injuries were so severe he suffered multi-organ failure, toxic shock and sepsis – taking him seconds away from death as he lay on life support at Evelina London.
Miraculously, Tony recovered against all odds but has been left with permanent physical damage including losing his hearing in one ear and having to have both legs amputated due to infection. He continues to be treated at Evelina, which Paula describes as his ‘second home’.
On his JustGiving page, Paula said: “Even though Tony suffered so much at the start of his life, today he is a bright, happy and confident little boy, who loves life. And we could not be prouder of him.
“Since seeing Captain Tom on the TV, Tony has wanted to do his own challenge and raise some pennies for the wonderful Evelina London Children’s Hospital, his second home.
“Tony has recently been learning to walk on his new legs with crutches, and throughout June wants to walk ten kilometres to help raise money for Evelina London, the hospital he has been treated throughout his life.
“Every year, Evelina London provides vital care and support for more than 95,000 children and young people from across London and the south east.
“Your donations in support of Tony will help make an enormous difference to their work and enable the Evelina to do everything possible to ensure that all children in their care can live their best lives, today and tomorrow.
“This challenge may seem like an easy task for many, but for Tony this is a huge mountain to climb.”
Tony began his challenge last week, on June 1 hoping to raise £500. As of Tuesday morning, more than 17,000 people had donated to his page, with the total at £367,913 and counting.
Evelina London’s associate director of fundraising, Caroline Gormley, said: “We can’t thank Tony and his family enough for their incredible fundraising efforts and have been astonished at the kindness of all those that have donated so far.
“Tony is such an inspiration. The money raised through his sheer determination will go towards helping so many other children at Evelina London. We are so proud he is part of our family.”
Staggering £383,716.00 raised for Evelina Childrens Hospital ?
Please keep sharing & donating#doubleamputee#inspiredbycaptaintommoore#differentlyabled#notallsuperheroeswearcapes #inspired #thisboycan pic.twitter.com/Ax7KChqvCy
— Paula Hudgell Baby Tony Hudgell @bearsjourney (@paula_hudgell) June 9, 2020
Paula and Mark, who have seven other children, successfully campaigned for the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute Tony’s biological parents after first being told there was insufficient evidence to put them behind bars.
Jody Simpson and Tony Smith had claimed his injuries were caused by an accident, but jurors heard in court how they were inflicted over a ten-day campaign of abuse in their squalid home in Maidstone. They had delayed seeking medical treatment for the baby, telling police they had been waiting for their boiler to be fixed.
They were jailed in 2018 for ten years – the maximum sentence for child cruelty – but could be released as early as 2022.
The Hudgells are now appealing for a new ‘Tony’s Law’ to increase sentences for child attackers in line with those for GBH with intent, manslaughter and murder, and create a child cruelty register to keep track of abusers and protect other children from harm.
To donate to Tony’s page, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tonys-10k-walk