Tony Hudgell honoured by hospital in thanks for 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 with his mother Paula with the ceiling tile
Tony Hudgell, pictured with his mother Paula, has been depicted on a ceiling tile in a new unit at Evelina London Children’s Hospital (David Tett/Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust/PA)

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 Hudgell surrounded by staff members at Evelina London Children's Hospital
Tony said he was ‘so happy and proud’ to see how the hospital has honoured him (David Tett/Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust/PA)

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.”

Tony Hudgell sitting with his surgeon Michail Kokkinakis
Tony was reunited with his surgeon, Michail Kokkinakis, during the visit (David Tett/Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust/PA)

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.”

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)

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

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