TONY HUDGELL, BRAVE HEART
Tony Hudgell, 7, lost his legs after being abused by his birth parents - who escaped jail until his adoptive family fought for justice
Tony was rushed to hospital with life changing injuries in 2014 when he was 41 days old, following horrific abuse from his parents, Jody Simpson and Tony Smith. The pair were found guilty of child cruelty in 2018 and are both currently serving a ten-year prison sentence.
In 2017, Tony had both legs amputated due to the injuries he sustained as an infant, and he's currently learning to walk on prosthetic legs without crutches.
After his incredibly difficult start in life, Tony was adopted by Paula and Mark Hudgell of West Malling, Kent, who have successfully campaigned for longer sentences for anyone who seriously harms a child and are now calling for a register of abusers in the wake of the murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
Tony was taken to hospital in 2014 with multiple organ failure, several fractures and sepsis, brought about by being swung around by his ankles, with doctors battling for almost six weeks to save his life.
They decided to stop treatment just before Christmas 2014 but were unable to because Tony was a ward of court, and they couldn't get permission. However, they had inflicted a horrific ordeal on their little boy during which they swung him by his ankles and broke his legs in eight places.
They left him in agony with no medical treatment for ten days, which they later said was because they were waiting for someone to come and fix their boiler.
And the abuse continued during their scheduled visits with Tony; they pulled down his cast and snapped the splint in his leg, leaving it unsupported. The Child Protection Service dropped the case against Jody and Tony due to a lack of evidence, but the Hudgells petitioned police and their local police crime commissioner, and Smith and Simpson were charged with child cruelty and jailed in February 2018.
Mark and Paula took Tony in even though they have seven other children, Ben, 32, Ryan, 30, Chloe, 27, Kyle, 20, Jessica, 15, Jayden, 14, and Lacey, nine.
When Tony was four, doting Mother Paul told newspapers his injuries seldom hindered him from 'getting on with things’.
'Nothing stops him now. He's fast getting around and he's caught up cognitively with all his peers. He is very determined,' she said.
'It's amazing to see how he is now. An anaesthetist who treated him during his first Christmas met him again in hospital recently. She thought he had died.
'She was over the moon when she saw him again and couldn't stop hugging him. He's been a very lucky boy who touched many hearts.'
Tony's determination to help other children has seen him undertake an amazing fundraising effort in 2020.
He set out to raise £500 for the hospital that saved his life by walking 10km in 30 days in 2020 after being inspired by Sir Captain Tom Moore, who raised more than £33 million walking in his backyard.
But Tony's incredible efforts captured the hearts of tens of thousands of people, with a staggering £1,073,121 raised for Evelina London Children's Hospital in just a month.
The total has now surpassed £1.8 million in donations.
The Duchess of Cambridge wrote to Tony after he completed his walk in 2020.
'I wanted to send you my congratulations following your amazing fundraising efforts last month for Evelina Children's Hospital,' she wrote.
'It was wonderful to hear how you were inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore's story to carry out your own walk. I am very impressed that you carried on even after reaching your target of 10km!
'I know that your efforts have been hugely appreciated by Eveline, and we are all so proud of what you have achieved.
'I hope that you manage to have a very well-deserved rest before starting on your next adventure - whatever that may be! Catherine.'
On November 30, it was announced tougher sentences for child cruelty were to be introduced under Tony’s Law, which increased the maximum penalty for causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child from ten to 14 years, while causing the death of a child will rise from 14 years to life.
The amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill followed a campaign by his adoptive parents, Paula and Mark.
Tony's Law: an amendment to Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that introduced tougher sentences for child cruelty
Tony’s Law is an amendment to Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that was voted by ministers on November 30 2021.
It is named after Tony Hudgell, who was abused by his parents as an infant and suffered life-changing injuries.
His parents, Tony Smith and Jody Simpson, were both jailed for ten years, which was the maximum sentence at the time.
The amendment will increase the maximum penalty for causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child from ten to 14 years, while causing the death of a child will rise from 14 years to life.
The tougher planned sentences could mean that anyone who causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their care will face up to life imprisonment, rather than the current 14-year maximum.
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Photos and article material provided by Stuart Watts PR and Co-Founder of the Tony Hudgell Foundation