A brave boy from Wells has been rewarded for the courage he has shown while battling cancer.
Nine-year-old Matthew Barrett, who goes to Stoberry Park School, received a Little Star award from Cancer Research UK.
Matthew spent the period before last Christmas in hospital having suffered side effects from medication to treat shingles – due to his low immune system following cancer treatment.
But this year things have turned a corner and he is looking forward to spending this festive season at home.
Matthew was nominated after his mum Victoria told of how his determination in battling acute lympoblastic leukaemia – cancer of the blood cells – had dogged him for most of his childhood.
Proud mum Victoria said: “Matthew has gone through some difficult times, but he has got as far as he has with sheer grit and determination.
“We both want people to know that cancer should be talked about and for everyone to be child cancer aware so that fears can be faced and addressed openly.”
Problems first started for Matthew when he was six.
Victoria said: “I was told some blood tests would have to be done and very quickly we found ourselves being told by a room full of medical staff that Matthew had leukaemia. We both heard the news at the same time and felt in a state of shock.
“His Little Star award has come at a time when Matthew needed a boost to his confidence the most. He has gone through some difficult times.
“In the last year he has suffered from renal failure due to a drug reaction while being treated for shingles and was incredibly poorly. Then in April another very rare drug reaction caused him to be unable to stay awake and resulted in an MRI scan.
“Through all this, while he was scared, he has bounced back and his strength of character has really seen him through this far. It is not often that he complains of not being able to live a completely normal life as his peers do.”
Matthew’s sister Abigail, 11, and his younger brother Thomas, 6, were also proud recipients of a Little Stars certificate signed by celebrities including JLS, Mo Farah and England football captain Steven Gerrard.
Cancer Research UK are working with TK Maxx to acknowledge the challenges faced by youngsters who encounter cancer and raise vital funds for research into the disease.
Unlike many other children’s awards, there is no judging panel because Cancer Research UK and TK Maxx believe that each and every child who faces cancer is extra special.
Recipients get a unique trophy, a £50 TK Maxx gift card and a certificate signed by celebrities.
Relatives and friends of young cancer patients or survivors from across the region are being urged to nominate them now for special recognition in the run up to Christmas.
Alison Birkett, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the South West, said: “Matthew is a true Little Star who richly deserves this accolade.
“We hope to acknowledge the bravery of many more children like Matthew across the region and are encouraging family and friends to get nominating now.”
The Little Star Awards are open to all under-18s who have cancer or who have been treated for the disease in the last five years.
To nominate a Little Star visit www.cruk.org/littlestar.