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A look back at Tony Hudgell's year of fundraising success as he prepares for more adventures in 2021


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Through trying times and with gritted determination that belies his tender years, six-year-old Tony Hudgell raised more than £1.5m for charity, received personal congratulation from the Prime Minister and royalty, earned a Pride of Britain Award, and now has a children’s book written in his honour.

For any child so young these are huge achievements, but for Tony, who had to have both legs amputated at just 41 days old, the accolades have his adoptive parents bursting with pride as he makes progress they never could have imagined.

Tony has been signing copies of Go, Tony, Go!
Tony has been signing copies of Go, Tony, Go!

Tony’s suffering at the hands of his biological parents has been well documented. When born, he was subject to such horrendous abuse it left him fighting for his life.

Fast forward to 2020 and the once helpless little boy from Kings Hill is raising staggering amounts of money for good causes.

Inspired by Captain Tom Moore, Tony set himself his own personal challenge to walk 10km throughout June while learning to walk on his new prosthetic legs.

He set the target at just £500 but his determination captured the nation's hearts sending the total sky rocketing to more than £1.5m.

The feat also earned Tony a trophy at the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards which sits proudly on display on a mantelpiece in the Hudgell family’s living room.

A photo of Tony completing his 10km walk was selected for the National Portrait Gallery's 'Hold Still' exhibition. Picture: David Tett
A photo of Tony completing his 10km walk was selected for the National Portrait Gallery's 'Hold Still' exhibition. Picture: David Tett

Looking back on her son’s achievements, Tony’s adoptive mother Paula Hudgell said: “It has been a tough year for everybody.

“To look back and realise how much he has achieved is incredible.

“People say it’s such a shame there has been a lockdown because we’ve not been able to celebrate, but actually if it wasn’t for that we probably wouldn’t have pushed him for his walking so he wouldn’t have improved so quickly.

“We then wouldn’t have raised the money, and then he wouldn’t have got the Pride of Britain Award.

“It has been a rubbish year, but because of it, he has achieved so much. It will probably be one of the most important years of his life.”

The moment Tony completed his charity walk in Kings Hill. Picture: Just Giving / YouTube
The moment Tony completed his charity walk in Kings Hill. Picture: Just Giving / YouTube

The Discovery School pupil - who walks with the help of crutches - was cheered across the finish line by well-wishers who braved the rain to see him complete his fundraising mission.

All of the money will go to the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London to say thank you to the doctors and nurses who saved his life as a baby.

In becoming a national sensation the little lad received words of encouragement from current and former Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and David Cameron, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the footballing heroes of his team Chelsea.

Tony even received a special video message from Captain Tom’s family.

The incredible 10km journey led to Tony receiving more than 88,000 nominations for Pride of Britain's Good Morning Britain Young Fundraiser of the year award.

Boris Johnson and Tony Hudgell at the Discovery School. Picture: Tom Tugendhat
Boris Johnson and Tony Hudgell at the Discovery School. Picture: Tom Tugendhat

He was presented with the trophy by his favourite TV icons Ant and Dec while he was browsing the shelves at Hamleys toy store in London with his family.

The double-act, disguised as Christmas soldiers, jumped out from a pile of toys to surprise him.

After seeing Tony make the headlines, Sarah Kingdon-Ward a former English, drama and special needs teacher from Suffolk was inspired to write her first book and wanted to focus the story on Tony.

Mrs Kingdon-Ward contacted the Hudgells online to share her ideas and ‘Go, Tony, Go!’ was published by her brother’s company, Blue Poppy Publishing earlier this month.

The picture story celebrates the six-year-old’s exploits from a child’s perspective and aims to spread the positive message behind Tony’s achievements.

Ant and Dec surprised the youngster
Ant and Dec surprised the youngster

The newly published author said: “There is so much negativity about at the moment and after seeing this little chap on the TV, who had such a traumatic start in life, the fact he wanted to be like Captain Tom was so inspiring to me.

“In the midst of everything I just wanted something positive to focus on and then I had the idea to write the book.

“I write poetry but writing books is all very new to me but I’m so glad I was able to do it.

“Captain Tom has even requested a copy because he is featured in it which is a bit surreal.”

The surgeon who saved Tony’s life, Michael Kokkinakis from the Evelina hospital even wrote the book’s forward adding another personal touch to the story.

Tony was presented with his award by Ant and Dec in Hamleys
Tony was presented with his award by Ant and Dec in Hamleys

Tony is so pleased with his story, he has been sending signed copies to local schools and hopes to send one to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in time for Christmas.

All the profits from the book will also go to the hospital which treats 103,000 children and young people each year.

To add to his legacy, some of the £1.5m raised for the Evelina has been put aside for the new Tony Hudgell therapy unit which will open in 2026.

The space will be housed in a new building next to the existing hospital and will be designed to treat children with similar needs to Tony who will receive ongoing treatment into adulthood.

Just two weeks ago he had a fitting for new prosthetic legs which will make him 5cm taller.

MP Tom Tugendhat presents Tony, pictured with his mum, with a reward from the Prime Minister
MP Tom Tugendhat presents Tony, pictured with his mum, with a reward from the Prime Minister

Mrs Hudgell said: “He was so funny when he tried them on because he said ‘I’ll be taller than Ant and Dec’.”

Looking forward to 2021, Mrs Hudgell said Tony’s charity work is only set to continue.

If everything goes to plan, and if Covid-19 allows, the family is planning a big fundraiser in London in June.

Mrs Hudgell said: “I can’t give too much away but hopefully that will be the start of The Tony Hudgell Foundation, an organisation that aims to help more child victims of domestic abuse.”

In July, he also received the Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

The award recognises outstanding efforts made by individual volunteers.

The accolade, which Tony is the 1,413th recipient of, was presented to him by Tonbridge and Malling MP, Tom Tugendhat.

To get a copy of 'Go, Tony, Go!' click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Malling

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