A WIRRAL teenager has been nominated for a Your Champions award for his incredible courage in battling illness.
Christopher Howgate, of Birkenhead, has been put forward for the young champion category.
Chris has Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy and polyarticular juvenile arthritis among other diagnoses, and has severe learning disabilities.
The 18-year-old’s physical health has deteriorated over the last few years, meaning he is increasingly wheelchair-bound, and often experiences discomfort and pain.
Nominating Christopher for the award is Lesley Dougan from the Learning Disabilities Team at Clatterbridge Hospital.
She said: “I used to work with Chris and his family until he turned 17.
“He spent some time in the high dependency unit at Alder Hey after suffering a stroke.
“Christopher is a strong, resilient young man and, despite everything he endures in terms of treatment, he wants to ‘give back’.
“I think he is an inspiration despite all he has gone through in the past few years, and he still thinks of other people.”
Chris and his family took part in Chris’s Big Push to raise money for former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff’s AF Foundation by being pushed in his wheelchair from Alder Hey Hospital to the grounds of Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
Lesley added: “This was Chris’ idea, and was inspired by his hero Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff.
“During the big push Chris met up with Freddie and his wife Rachel who founded the AF Foundation to provide specialist physiotherapy and rehabilitation to children and young people.
“Freddie and Rachel invited the family as guests of honour to the gala ball of the AF Foundation, held in the Hilton Hotel, London.
“Chris is an inspiration and I am proud to know him. I think he really deserves this nomination.”
Chris’s parents Dean and Alice, along with his bother Danny, 15, are pleased he has been nominated. Dean said: “Last year Chris had a serious illnesses with blood clots on the head and he was in Alder Hey hospital for six weeks.
“It was horrendous for all the family, he was very close to dying.
“He had open heart surgery when he was three, and he has been going to Alder Hey since he was three days old.
“I think he is an outstanding candidate for this nomination because he has battled so many things.
“After his recent illnesses with blood clots, it took him eight months to get over it. I think it was a shock and frightened the life out of him.
“Freddie and Rachel Flintoff are a great source of strength for him; they are always ringing him up and come to see him.
“Chris is the face of AF Foundation and opened the physiotherapy department at Alder Hey with Freddie and Rachel. It was then Chris wanted to do something to raise cash for the AF Foundation.
“We did the Big Push with Chris in a wheelchair on August Bank Holiday. It took three days and we walked 34 miles from Alder Hey hospital to the grounds of Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
“So far we’ve raised £700 for charity. Chris wants to help others and will be doing more events in the future to raise cash.”