Oliver in spotlight at awards event
FORGET the celebrities it was Gorleston’s Oliver Gent who was fighting off the fans and facing a battery of camera lenses at a star studded awards’ ceremony in London on Monday.
Armed with an autograph book and a beaming smile the seven year old hoped to catch the eye of some famous faces - but in fact they all wanted to meet him.
Sporting and TV stars all made a bee-line for Oliver at the Intercontinental Hotel London where he picked up his WellChild Award in the category Bravest Child - many of them eager to keep in touch.
Oliver, who lives with his family in Gorleston, was picked as a winner because of his outstanding courage in coping with a rare and painful condition affecting bone and muscle development called Freeman Sheldon Syndrome.
At the ceremony run by WellChild, the national charity for sick children winners like Oliver mingled with celebrities such as children’s TV stars Helen Skelton from Blue Peter and Laura Hamilton from Nickelodeon, as well as BBC presenter and Strictly Come Dancing champion Chris Hollins, Olympic swimmer Mark Foster, models Penny Lancaster-Stewart and Sophie Anderton, pop stars Scouting for Girls and talent show stars X Factor’s Andy Abrahams and Britain’s Got Talent’s Stavros Flatley.
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At the end of the ceremony the winners watched a personal message from WellChild’s Royal Patron Prince Harry who congratulated each one by name.
Oliver’s mum, Donna, said: “It’s been very special for the whole family and given Oliver a new lease of life. I’ve seen a huge difference in him as the WellChild Awards has got closer. He’s even eating better – He’s my Oliver again.
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“He just loved it. Everyone was so friendly, it was an unforgettable experience.”
When he was born Oliver’s legs were put straight into a plaster cast and he received continuing treatment to help his hands grow normally. After numerous tests he, and then his little brother, Ben, were diagnosed with a rare condition which has meant both boys have had to endure severe pain in their feet, many operations and months of arduous treatment.
Social worker Laura Baker who nominated Oliver said: “In the face of painful and distressing treatment and having to cope with so many continuing health problems, Oliver is a joyful and enthusiastic little boy with unfaltering courage and a fantastic attitude.”