Jarrow Child of Courage, nine, facing up to fresh health battle after winning Best of South Tyneside Award
Jack Lewis, nine, had the happiest day of his life when he won a Child of Courage trophy at the Best of South Tyneside Awards.
He got a standing ovation as he headed for the stage with members of the audience shouting ‘go on Jack!’
But the Jarrow youngster is struggling with more health problems. He is already having hospital tests and faces 5-6 more weeks of investigative work including camera probes at the Royal Victoria Infirmary.
It is the latest setback in his young life which has already been filled with more than 50 trips to hospital, including surgery when he was just 5 months old on two hernias.
Jack came into the world with the rare condition Exomphalos Major which only affects two in 5,000 children, according to NHS statistics.
He was born with his bowel, intestines and liver outside of his body. His parents were told he would never be competitive or achieve anything at a higher level.
But the Newcastle School for Boys student never gives in and, as well as excelling at school, he was chosen to compete for England at the Dance World Cup last year.
It was that bravery which saw him chosen as an award winner in the category sponsored by South Tyneside College.
Mum Sarah Lewis said: “I have never seen him as happy as he was at the awards night. He was so excited.
"The Mayoress talked to him about his bow tie and he also saw ‘Big Pink Dress’.
“Jack said to me ‘mam, everyone who is famous in South Shields is here.”
Sarah had prepared Jack to face up to the fact he might not win an award. “We said to him ‘there might be other boys and girls who have been poorly and it does not matter if you don’t win because you got voted to come here’."
But Jack won and the brave boy almost missed his big moment when he was announced as one of the five Child of Courage winners.
"Everyone on the table in front stood up when the announcer said Jack’s name. Jack was looking round when people were saying ‘it’s you Jack! It’s you!,” said Sarah.
It was a golden moment for Jack and his family, especially as he had been so ill in the days and weeks before the awards night that he almost missed it.
Sarah, 39, said her son was ‘having unexplained episodes where he is being sick and quite poorly. He can go from being perfectly fine to quite poorly really quickly. He is now getting poorly every other week.”
He might eventually need a full abdominal reconstruction as he is suffering with a swollen stomach on one side.
Our thanks go to the venue hosts at the Roker Hotel as well as the outstanding sponsors including South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside College, JML, and Harlow Printing.
The superb backers for this year’s awards also include Siemens, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Goldfinch Estate Agents, and Barbour.
Watch out for a ‘post-awards night’ supplement with more interviews and photos in the Shields Gazette on Thursday, May 5.