A young Derry girl has been given a ‘Child of Courage award at a gala function hosted by RTÉ tv and radio presenters Miriam O’Callaghan and Will Leahy.
Five years old Aoibh Cutliffe was one of just eight described as “the bravest children” in Ireland who were honoured at the Share a Dream National Children of Courage Awards at their Gala Dream Ball in Limerick.
Aoibh’s proud mum Brid said her daughter was exceptionally deserving of the prize, explaining that she was a “real wee hero” to her mammy, daddy and four sisters.
She added: “Aoibh was brought into the world with the prognosis of hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, damaged eyesight and limited vision from missing brain parts caused by a possible stroke in the womb. On the 2nd day of her life she set off for her first operation on her head, to relieve some pressure in her brain.”
Aoibh has gone on to defy doctors since her birth. “We were told she was brain damaged and that she could not do a lot of things that other children would be able to do. We were told she might not sit up or talk, but she has. She might do it slower than other children but she does it; she gets there.”
On top of her hydrocephalus Aoibh was diagnosed with epilepsy when she just nine months-old. At one stage she was taking as many as 20 fits in a day, but this is now down to between five and ten each day.
She thrives among the company of her three sisters, and at school in Foyleview which, Brid describes as “the best school in Derry” and shows a desire to be independent.
“She is my hero,” Brid told the ‘Journal’ proudly.
The gala event, was attended by 350 guests, was a truly magical night where dreams came true for all the children.
“All these children were nominated from all over Ireland by parents, doctors, nurses, relatives etc who all write to us detailing the daily trauma, loneliness and fear, which is part of having your child diagnosed with a terrible illness or disability. It is truly heartbreaking to witness the hardship these families and children experience,” said Shay Kinsella, Founder.
“However, it is also very humbling to see just how brave these children are despite their lives. This is why it is so important to recognise the sick and disabled children of Ireland, through our National Children of Courage Awards.”
At the end of the night a very special surprise was in store for the all eight children when Captain Courage arrived on stage and presented Miriam and Will with a very urgent message to tell all the children that they and their families were invited to Disneyland for a Dream trip.
Share a Dream is now in its 22nd year making a difference in children’s lives by bringing smiles and happy memories to over 22,000 very sick and disabled children all over this country.
The organisation works with children’s charities all over Ireland and doesn’t receive any State funding whatsoever relying solely on the generosity of the community.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world knowing you created a smile and brought a little bit of magic something special into the lives of very sick and disabled children by making their fondest wish come true”, said Founder Shay Kinsella.