A FOUR-year-old boy who was born with a heart defect was awarded a Child of Courage award, at an event in the Island Centre last Friday organised by the South Eastern Education Board.
Little Robert Patterson from Hillhall, who suffers from Hypoplastic Leftheart Syndrome (HLHS,) accepted the award - with what his mother Caroline described as a cheesy grin.
The evening was compered by BBC TV Personality, Donna Traynor and was attended by 250 children and young people, parents, school principals, youth leaders, VIPs, SEELB Commissioners and public representatives.
Last year, when Robert attended Barbour Nursery School, he so impressed the teachers with his enthusiasm for life, despite having already undergone three major heart operations from birth that sub-teacher Ann Patterson decided to put his name forward for the award.
School principal Tracey Cassells said, “Robert is such of lovely boy. He is always smilng and he is just a joy to know. When I went on maternity leave the sub teacher was so taken by how cheerful he was. He never complains or allows his physical restrictions to stop him from doing things. He is such a lovely child and I cannot speak highly enough of him. He has achieved so much in spite of his medical condition, is such a cheerful child and a real inspiration.”
Mother Caroline spoke of her shock at her son getting the award.
“When he was told he had this cheesy grin from ear to ear,” she said.
Caroline, was just 23 weeks pregnant with Robert when he was diagnosed with a heart complaint. When he was just a day old he was flown by helicopter to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for a major operation and has since had two other major operations. The last one was in August.
“We were all surprised that he was chosen, but so happy,” said Caroline. “I am so proud of him. He just has this infectious smile.he just smiles all the time no matter what he is going through. He just gets on with it. He cannot do anything physical and is cautious when he does. He does get tired easily but he is so cheerful he never lets it bother him.”
It will not be the only surprise for Robert. Birmingham Children’s Hospital has organised a trip to Lapland for little Robert.
SEELB Chief Executive, Gregory Butler, commented, “This annual event is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and applaud the achievements of many of our young people. The Board is delighted that, with the support of our sponsors, it has once again been possible to organise this evening's ceremony to acknowledge the diversity of achievement and incredible talents and skills within schools and youth services across the Board’s area.”