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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Excited kids enjoy special gift-laden visit from Santa

COURAGEOUS and kind children were honoured at a special Christmas celebration.

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WELCOME SANTA Evening Mail Christmas Star competition nominees pictured with Santa and well-wishers JON GRANGER REF: 50057558B003

Youngsters nominated to be Evening Mail Christmas Stars attended a festive gathering at the newspaper’s offices in Barrow, where they received gifts from Santa.

The children, who have fought life-threatening illnesses, cared for poorly and disabled family members and raised money for charities, were put forward to family and friends to be Christmas Stars.

The judges had the difficult decision of selecting just one boy and one girl to each win a sack full of presents worth £200, courtesy of Heaths Toymaster in Barrow, and have them delivered to their home by Father Christmas.

One of the Christmas Star winners was Barrow’s Tyler Baines, 11, a gold medal-winning wheelchair basketball player who has had 40 operations over the last seven years for spinal and other injuries he suffered in an horrendous car accident.

The other winner was Jessica Johnston, aged two-and-a-half, who has endured surgery and chemotherapy to be treated for the aggressive childhood cancer, neuroblastoma.

However, the Evening Mail and Heaths Toymaster wanted to congratulate all the Christmas Stars nominees with a special Santa event. So on Monday evening some 20 children and their families collected a Christmas present and £5 Heaths Toymaster gift voucher from Santa.

Ryan Davey, 10, collected his present and enjoyed the festive fun.

The brave Barrow youngster had brain surgery in June. He had 18 hours of surgery to remove a large mass of blood vessels in his brain as he has the inherited genetic condition hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, which leaves him having a very high risk of suffering a stroke.

Ryan attended the event with his brother, Luke, seven, and their mum Karen Blezard, who also have the same condition.

Ryan said: “I was excited to be nominated as a Christmas Star. It’s nice that we are getting presents.”

Miss Blezard, said: “We are very proud of Ryan and we wanted him to know what an inspiration he has been this year. It’s lovely to see all the children at this Christmas event.”

The youngsters promised to leave mince pies out for Santa, while nine-year-old charity cake baker Jessica Jackson was planning to make Santa chocolate chip cookies. The Barrow lass has raised hundreds of pounds to help cancer patients. Phil Heath, the owner of Heath Toymaster, said the children’s courage and kindness was touching and heart-rending and he was proud and honoured to sponsor the prizes.

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