A young amputee charmed Kate Middleton and Prince William last night as they made time during their festive carol concert to ‘spend ages’ chatting with Tony Hudgell, 7, and his mother.
Tony was rushed to hospital with life changing injuries when he was just 41-days-old in 2014 following horrific abuse from his parents, Jody Simpson and Tony Smith, who 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 successfully campaigned for longer sentences for anyone who seriously harms a child, and are now calling for a register abusers in the wake of the murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
His proud parents were by his side as the youngster met Kate Middleton and Prince William at last night’s service, and later tweeted: ‘Tony has no idea of the impact or enormity he holds. The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge were truly incredible with him. They chatted to us both for ages. A truly magical evening.’
A sweet image shows William and Kate crouching down to Tony’s eye level to chat to the youngster while his proud mother Paula looked on.
The invite to the concert came after Kate was impressed by Tony’s charity efforts in 2020, when he raised more than £1.5 million for Evelina London Children’s Hospital, of which she is an official patron.
Tony Hudgell, now seven, was rushed to hospital with life changing injuries when he was just 41-days-old in 2014 following horrific abuse from his parents, Jody Simpson and Tony Smith, who were found guilty of child cruelty 2018 and are currently serving a ten-year prison sentence. Last night, the seven-year-old, who has raised more than £1.5 million for charity, met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey’s Together At Christmas carol concert
Tony’s legs were broken in eight different places due to the cruel abuse he suffered at the ends of his parents as an infant
Last night, pictured, Tony beamed as he posed if front of carolers at Westminster Abbey ahead of the big concert
Tony was rushed 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.
Incredibly, Tony fought back and was able to recover from his life-threatening injuries and was taken on by Mark and Paula as a foster child after four months spent in hospital.
His birth parents claimed his injuries were the result of a ‘terrible accident’, and were still allowed three two-hour sessions with him a week.
His adoptive mother Paul Hudgell said Tony’s amputation has not stopped him from enjoying life. Here he is surfing during a weekend away
However, they had actually 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 Duchess of Cambridge, pictured centre, wrote to Tony in August 2020 to congratulate him on his crowdfunding efforts. They met last night, with Tony’s adoptive mother Paula, left and father Mark, far centre, watching on
The seven-year-old stood to attention as he exchanged a few words with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, pictured
Adoptive father Mark, right, stood proudly next to Tony at last night’s event. Him and Paula petitioned their MP and local police crime commissioner after Tony was left into their care following his injuries, so that his birth parents could be investigated for their crimes
The seven-year-old, who is currently learning to walk with his prosthetic legs, got to meet live reindeers at last night’s event, pictured
The doting parents snapped Tony in front of the beautiful nativity scene laid out at Westminster abbey
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 The Mirror his injuries seldom hindered him from ‘getting on with things’.
Tony, who has shared his story on This Morning with presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, pictured, met them at a glitzy ITV event in November
Seven-year-old Tony with a group of young carolers last night in Westminster. He incredible boy has raised more than £1.5 million for charity
‘Nothing stops him now. He’s really 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 efforts in 2020.
Paula and Tony last night. The mother-of-eight said Tony is a very ‘determined’ little boy, who was inspired to raise money himself after hearing about Sir Captain Tom Moore
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 £1.5 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!
Tony’s cruel birth parents, Tony Smith, 47, left, and Jody Simpson, 27, right, swung him by the ankles and broke his legs in eight different places, before leaving him without medical treatment for ten days before eventually bringing him to hospital. They are currently serving a ten-year prison sentence
‘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 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.
On social media, Paula paid tribute to Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six pictured, who died in June 2020 after suffering horrific abuse at the end of his father Thomas Hughes and his girlfriend Emma Tustin
Chelsea fan Tony, who wants to become a race car driver, got to meet of his idol Mason Mount at Chelsea Football Club in August
In welcoming the changes Paula Hudgell said that more had to be done to protect vulnerable children and the planned tougher sentences are for ‘Tony and all the babies and children that suffered or lost their lives at the hands of their abusers.’
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.
Under the changes, dubbed Tony’s Law, the maximum penalty for child cruelty causing or allowing serious physical harm from 10 years to 14 years.
The punishment for the crime of cruelty to a person under 16 will rise from 10 to 14 years’ imprisonment.
In a statement Ms Hudgell said: ‘We are delighted that Tony’s Law is being backed by the Government.
‘It’s been our hope since those who abused our son were jailed in 2018 that more could be done to protect other children, the most vulnerable members of our society.
The seven-year-old’s family are raising £185,000 to adapt their home to his needs and give him the best care possible
‘I can’t thank the public enough for the support they have shown through this nearly four-year campaign, but especially thanks to Tom Tugendhat who has worked tirelessly with me, also my friend Julia Roberts, a court reporter and my friends and family it was definitely a team effort.’
At home, Tony has been adjusting well and is now learning to walk with his new prosthetic legs, which were fitted earlier this year.
Paula and Mark revealed on this morning their adoptive son is now able to walk without crutches.
‘He does venture out now without the crutches, its just incredible to see him like that,’ she said.
‘It means that he’s at the same level of his peers, has access to so much more and can play with his friends at school.
Proud father Mark added: ‘He’s done incredibly well.’
Tony’s family are currently raising £185,000 to five Tony, who they affectionately nicknamed ‘Bear,’ the best possible equipment, including walking aids, therapy at home and school, and funds to made their home more adapted to Tony’s needs.
Tony, pictured as a toddler, recovered from death’s door, but sadly, he had to have his legs amputated three years later in 2017
The seven-year-old is learning to walk with his prosthetic legs, pictured, and has lots of ambition for his future life
Paula, pictured with Tony, fought for the law to be amended to give tougher sentences for child abusers
Tony is now growing up in a loving family, and has a positive outlook on life, in spite of the horrific injuries he suffered as an infant
The seven-year-old raised more than £1 million for charity last year and the amount is now estimated to be more than £1.5 million