UK

Tony Hudgell honoured by hospital in thanks for fundraising efforts

The nine-year-old has raised £1.8 million for charity and was thanked for his efforts with a surprise.

Nine-year-old Tony Hudgell has been honoured by the hospital that saved his life in a thank you for his fundraising efforts
Tony Hudgell walking on crutches on a visit to the new unit at Evelina London Children's Hospital Nine-year-old Tony Hudgell has been honoured by the hospital that saved his life in a thank you for his fundraising efforts

A nine-year-old boy who raised £1.8 million for charity has said he is “so happy and proud” to be honoured by the hospital that saved his life.

Tony Hudgell, from West Malling in Kent, was surprised on Thursday with a ceiling tile depicting him as an astronaut in a new space-themed unit at Evelina London Children’s Hospital – which £500,000 of his fundraising has gone towards.

The tile, which shows Tony with his crutches, prosthetic legs and a name badge, will serve as an “everlasting legacy” of his support for the new Children’s Day Surgery Unit, which opened to patients in July 2023.

Tony has received specialist and life-saving treatment at the children’s hospital since he was a baby.

Tony Hudgell, pictured with his mother Paula, has been on a ceiling tile in a new unit at Evelina London Children’s Hospital in a thank you for his fundraising efforts
Tony Hudgell with his mother Paula with the ceiling tile Tony Hudgell, pictured with his mother Paula, has been on a ceiling tile in a new unit at Evelina London Children’s Hospital in a thank you for his fundraising efforts

He was just 41 days old when he was assaulted by his birth parents, an attack which caused multiple fractures and dislocations, and blunt trauma to the face, leading to organ failure, toxic shock and sepsis.

Tony was left untreated and in agony for 10 days and because of the extent of his injuries both his legs had to be amputated.

Jody Simpson and her partner Anthony Smith were jailed for 10 years in 2018.

Paula and Mark Hudgell fostered Tony when he was six weeks old and adopted him at 17 months in 2016.

At the age of five, Tony challenged himself to walk every day in June to raise money for Evelina London Children’s Charity with an initial target of £509 and four years later, he is the charity’s biggest fundraiser to date.

Tony said he was ‘so happy and proud’ to see how the hospital have honoured him
Tony Hudgell surrounded by staff members at Evelina London Children's Hospital Tony said he was ‘so happy and proud’ to see how the hospital have honoured him

To thank him for his efforts, Tony and Paula were given a tour of the new outer-space themed unit, which is equipped with two operating theatres to help treat up to an additional 2,300 children every year.

During the tour, Tony was asked to look up and was thrilled to see himself portrayed as an astronaut on the ceiling tile, saying: “I’m so happy and proud.”

Ms Hudgell, 56, told the PA news agency: “It’s just lovely that he’s part of that building in an everlasting legacy there and I’m so proud.

“You always want to help the hospital that helped your child – the hospital is so important to us and it saved his life.

“It still seems surreal that he raised that amount of money and it’s just wonderful to be able to give back.”

During the tour, Tony was reunited with his surgeon, Michail Kokkinakis
Tony Hudgell sitting with his surgeon Michail Kokkinakis During the tour, Tony was reunited with his surgeon, Michail Kokkinakis

Tony was also gifted a souvenir version of the tile to take home with him, as well as an engraved brick from the foundations of the building.

The visit also gave Tony the chance to be reunited with his surgeon, Michail Kokkinakis, who said the youngster’s fundraising efforts were “out-of-this-world”.

He said: “His (Tony’s) out-of-this-world fundraising continues to make a positive difference to the children we care for at Evelina London and thanks to his determination, we can bring smiles to the faces of anxious children and hope to worried families.”

Tony first visited the unit when it was opened officially by the Princess of Wales
A photo of Tony Hudgell with the Princess of Wales Tony first visited the unit when it was opened officially by the Princess of Wales (Ian Voger/PA)

Supported by Tony’s fundraising, the new unit has created extra capacity to treat children with more complex conditions and since opening, more than 1,180 children and their families have been treated there.

Tony first visited the site when it was officially opened in December by the Princess of Wales, Evelina London’s Royal Patron.