THEY have supported their families through some tough and harrowing times.
And this week their selfless acts were recognised when they were invited to join the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Ernest Gibson, for an action-packed afternoon at Ocean Beach Pleasure Park.
The families were able to enjoy all the fun of the fair, enjoying rides on the rollercoaster, dodgems and ghost train, treats from The Rock Shop, based within the site, and a game of Quaser, where they had the chance to take on the Mayor.
Youngsters invited to the Gazette-organised event included the twin brothers of Jack Leggett.
James and Thomas, both aged 11, were a tower of strength for their parents Susan and Alfie during their younger brother’s short illness and then his tragic death.
The nine-year-old had been diagnosed with a brain tumour last October, losing his fight for life a few months later in December.
Susan said: “The trip to the fair has been fantastic, they have really enjoyed themselves.
“When Jack was diagnosed it was tough on us all. As parents, we were devoting all our time to Jack and it did feel like we were putting the other two boys to one side, but throughout it all they never complained – it’s just been great we have been able to bring them down and have some fun with the Mayor.”
Dad Alfie added: “What the Mayor has done and the people at the pleasure park is fantastic. The boys have had a great time and we really appreciate it all.”
Tyler Jayne Wilson, 15, Harry Wilson, 11 and Charlie Wilson, eight, from Jarrow, were also invited to join the Mayor after being nominated by their grandmother Sandra Wilson.
The trio take care of their mum Danielle, 34, who suffers from epilepsy and walking problems, helping around the house and never complaining when sometimes they have to miss out things because their mum is too ill.
Danielle said: “It has been a really nice day. They were nominated by my mam. It’s just been nice to have a day together, which has been made really special for them. I just sometimes feel so guilty that they have to sacrifice so much because of my illness, that’s been really nice to have been able to give them something back to say thank you.
“I really appreciate what the Mayor and the pleasure park have done for my children – they have really made the experience really special.”
David Stephenson was nominated by his stepmum Kirsty Peach, who described him as her “inspiration”. He came down to the pleasure park joined by his cousin Steven Clifford.
The eight-year-old endured ill-health as a youngster, suffering tonsillitis 11 times from the age of two, until he eventually had them removed at four years old.
At the age of three, he suffered the devastating loss of his seven-week-old brother Paul. And in January this year, lost both his grandad and uncle within two days of each other.
Kirsty said: “Throughout it all, he has been so strong and brave. He comforted those closet to him and was a pillar of strength.
“Even though he has had some sad and tough times he always seemed to know what to do. He really has kept everyone going – it’s why I nominated him and he has absolutely loved every minute of it.
“I just feel blessed to be a part of his life and I’m overwhelmed he’s been able to come and enjoy an afternoon with the Mayor, it really has meant a lot to both him and me.”
Coun Gibson said: “I’d just like to thank Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, in particular Emma Arkley, for helping to make this possible.
“I’ve had a great time with the kids and it’s fantastic we have been able to do this for them, to recognise the support they have given their families through some very tough times - they really are inspirational.”