A brave South Shields youngster battling a serious illness has been chosen to go on the holiday of a lifetime.
Maddy Warnes, 12, is being flown to Orlando, Florida for the special trip.
She’ll be among children from across the UK with a serious illness or disability who will spend 10 days with the Dreamflight charity in October visiting major attractions such as Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and SeaWorld.
Maddy, who has type 1 diabetes, will also have the chance to swim with dolphins. She was nominated for the trip by Joanne Henderson, a paediatric diabetes specialist nurse at South Tyneside District Hospital.
Harton Technology School pupil Maddy, who was four when her mum, Donna, died following an asthma attack and who lives with dad Keith, 52, and sister Ellie, 16, said: “I’m really excited about swimming with the dolphins and going on all the rides and I’m looking forward to meeting others like me.”
Maddy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was seven. It affects four in every 1,000 children and is a lifelong condition. She has to check her blood sugar levels by pricking her finger four to six times a day and needs an insulin injection up to six times a day, which she does herself.
She has had to learn how to count the carbohydrates she eats and modify the insulin dosage accordingly. She also has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which causes swelling and pain and often means she has to have steroid injections into her joints.
Her dad said: “She deserves this trip and I am over the moon for her. At times, she can find it really hard but she just gets on with it. She is doing really well at school and she is very caring.”
Grandad Ron Stonehouse, 60, also from South Shields, added: “Maddy is a star. Since she started getting injections for her rheumatoid arthritis and her diabetes I have never seen a braver little girl. Her nana and I know that all those daily diabetes injections must take their toll but she is a little fighter. She is full of life and gets on with everyone.
“She loves to dance, likes sport and she comes to the football matches with me to look after me. She is an inspiration to all young children and the family are so proud of her. We only wish her mam, Donna, was here to see her get this trip of a lifetime.”
Mrs Henderson, who works at the hospital in Harton Lane, said: “We have got to know Maddy very well over the last few years and she is lovely young girl. She has to cope with such a lot and when we were asked by the Dreamflight charity to nominate someone for their holiday she was an obvious candidate.
“She didn’t know anything about it and when we told her she’d been chosen she was overwhelmed and burst into tears and we were all in floods of tears, too.”