Published: 11:02, 09 September 2019
| Updated: 11:45, 09 September 2019
A four-year-old boy who ended up having both legs amputated after being neglected by his birth parents starts primary school today.
Tony Hudgell is among the new intake of pupils starting at The Discovery School in Kings Hill this afternoon - but could so easily have not been alive to enjoy his first day at school.
Birth parents Jody Simpson and Antony Smith's abuse resulted in Tony suffering several fractures that led to septicaemia and left him fighting for his life when just 41 days old.
A judge described him as being "seconds away from death" when he was taken to a doctor’s surgery and the full extent of his injuries, which he suffered at the couple's Maidstone flat, was revealed.
Simpson and Smith were both eventually jailed for 10 years in 2018 and have had subsequent attempts to slash their sentences rejected by the courts.
Tony was then adopted by Paula Hudgell, who has since cared for and raised the youngster at her home in Victoria Drive.
She said this morning: "Tony's been so excited, asking 'can we go now, can we go now?' all the time.
"I'd been looking forward to the break to be honest but now the day is here it suddenly hit me and I've been a bit emotional.
"It's my last baby going off to school and obviously for Tony especially it's a huge milestone."
The youngster will have a week of afternoon sessions, followed by a week of mornings before then going in full-time in his third week.
Mrs Hudgell added earlier: "In the early days we never, ever thought going to a mainstream school would be possible - we didn't know how much brain damage had been caused.
"Tony's been really lucky because his four close friends are all going to be in the same class as him at school.
"It's good timing because he'd totally outgrown the pre-school, and he's really looking forward to settling in.
"The whole journey has been a rollercoaster from day one so to reach a milestone like this is incredibly emotional."
Mrs Hudgell has also launched a JustGiving page to help raise funds for much-needed disability equipment for Tony both at home and at school.
The family is adapting its home to cater for his needs, including a specialised bedroom, wetroom and lift, to ensure he has the independence he will want when he is older.
Click here to visit the page.