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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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Festive treat delights deserving Barrow youngsters

TWO very brave and deserving Barrow children got a magical surprise ahead of Christmas.

Father Christmas made a special early visit to the homes of the Evening Mail Christmas Star winners.

We had a fantastic response to a Christmas campaign asking for nominations for children who have shown great courage or kindness. The judges then had the difficult task of selecting a boy and girl to be the Christmas Stars of 2013.

Santa and his little helpers did the honours of surprising the winners and delivering wonderful gifts worth £200, courtesy of Heaths Toymaster, Barrow.

Tyler Baines was shocked to answer his front door and find Santa outside.

The 11-year-old luckily survived a horrendous car crash in 2006 while on a family holiday in Spain. He was left in a critical condition after suffering spinal, hip, pelvis and internal injuries.

Seven years on, Tyler’s spinal injury has caused ongoing problems that will carry on for the rest of his life.

The Walney School pupil has had 40 operations and is frequently away from home undergoing treatment at Furness General Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Oswestry hospital in Wales and the Stanmore Spinal Unit, London.

But brave Tyler does not let this stand in his way.

He has taken up wheelchair basketball and this year he won a gold medal representing the North West at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

Tyler now trains every Saturday in Carlisle and has set his sights on competing in the Paralympic Games.

Gobsmacked Tyler said: “It’s a big surprise and I’m really happy, thanks.”

Tyler was made up with a Scalextric set and other presents. The youngster also wanted his four younger siblings to each benefit so they also received gifts.

His mum Lauren, 32, of Parade Street, Barrow, said: “We are so proud of Tyler. He has been through so much, he has had a tough seven years and he deserves this. He is very surprised.”

Next on Santa’s list was little Jessica Johnston.

The two-and-a-half-year-old is a patient at The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where she has been treated for the aggressive childhood cancer, neuroblastoma.

Jessica was diagnosed with cancer when she was just eight months old on April 13, last year, which is also her mum Emma’s birthday. The tot had a tumour the size of an orange in her stomach and it had spread to other areas.

Jessica had to spend the majority of the year in hospital in Manchester.

She underwent chemotherapy treatment surgery in November last year to successfully removed the tumour.

Jessica continues to visit the hospital every six weeks for tests.

She and her four-year-old sister, Sophie, were amazed to see Santa in their living room and both girls enjoyed unwrapping and receiving gifts.

There were dolls and a pram, an electronic Leap Pad game and more.

Jessica said: “I like the Play-Doh and Sophie has a baby.”

The girls presented Santa with a gift of a ceremonial key for his Christmas Eve visit.

Jessica asked Santa “You’ll be coming back won’t you?”

Their dad, Neil Johnston, 38, of Yarlside Road, said: “They are very excited about Santa visiting them early.

“Jessica has been a very brave little girl and she deserves this. “Sophie has been a great support to her sister.”

As an additional gift, Lakeland Wildlife Oasis, of Milnthorpe, will be making the Christmas Stars zoo keepers for the day.

lAll the other Christmas Star nominees attended the Evening Mail offices this week to meet Santa and receive a Christmas gift and a £5 voucher for Heaths Toymaster.

See Friday’s Evening Mail for the story and pictures.

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