A 16-YEAR-OLD boy who has spent the last six months in intensive care celebrated his school prom with kind-hearted friends.
Leon Thorpe, a pupil of Redcar Academy, suffered brain injuries, spinal cord damage, breathing difficulties and numerous broken bones when he was knocked off his bike while coming out of Locke Park in Redcar in January.
Since then, he has been receiving round the clock care in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
Leon can now communicate using his eyes, nods, smiles and some words, and is now able to make use of a wheelchair most days.
He no longer has a “tracheostomy” tube helping him with his breathing and the fact he can now eat normally again after initially being fed through a tube is helping him to regain his strength and some of the weight he lost immediately after the accident.
And Leon took a huge step forward in terms of his recovery, when attended a stylish event at Gisborough Hall with his school friends, to celebrate the end of their GCSEs and final school year.
Leon’s mum Ann Thorpe-Nichols, who is also mum to two girls, Leisha, one, and Liberty, 11, said: “Leon has a really good group of friends who visit him most nights, or at least a few times a week. They did a sponsored walk for him from Redcar to Saltburn tied together, three-legged in pyjamas and all sorts of funky things!
“Some of his friends asked his dad if there was any chance he could attend prom. I contacted the school and asked if it would be possible and they were quite happy to allow him to attend and excited about seeing him.”
With the school’s agreement, Ann checked with nursing staff, who talked to Leon’s doctors.
Thankfully, the staff taking care of Leon also agreed it would be a great idea for him to have a night out and celebrate with his peers.
Ann said: “I asked Leon about it and he said he would “really really love it”.
Leon’s Dad works for a local taxi firm who kindly allowed the use of one of their wheelchair accessible vehicles to transport Leon safely to and from the prom along with his mum and dad.
Ann adds her son is making slow but steady progress in his recovery, but admits the change in him has been “heartbreaking” to witness.
She said: “He is a different person now. I don’t know if I will get the Leon I knew back, but I haven’t lost him. It has been really hard to see him so poorly, but this is an opportunity for him to catch up with his friends and provide a little bit of normality outside of the hospital.”
Angela Sweeten, Principal of Redcar Academy said: “Our Year 11 students enjoyed celebrating the end of two years of hard work culminating in the recent GCSE exams; and we we’re all really pleased Leon was be able to join in with the celebrations.
“As a school, we’re really proud of all of our students’ academic efforts and achievements, as well as the kindness and generosity shown to Leon and his family throughout this difficult time.
“We wish all our students all the very best for the future.”
More pictures and video of the Redcar Academy Prom can be found at The Gazette website