When the incident occurred, Tony Hudgell, eight, was on his way home from a four-day trip to Lapland, Finland, which had been gifted to the inspirational youngster for his fundraising efforts and tireless campaigning to impose harsher sentences for child abusers.
After waiting for hours for a wheelchair to arrive from the plane, the Pride of Britain winner, who lost his legs as an infant after being tortured by his mother Jody Simpson and her boyfriend Anthony Smith, had his “needs ignored.”
‘It was supposed to be there to get him off the plane, but it wasn’t,’ said Paula and Mark Hudgell, his adoptive parents, in a tweet.
Despite having booked assistance in advance, the little boy who captured the nation’s hearts by raising £1.8 million through fundraising walks had to wait for five hours for a wheelchair.
His family, from West Malling, Kent, said the £6,500 wheelchair was ‘put on the conveyor belt and got twisted and bent,’ and that they would file a complaint with the airline.
In response to the tweet, Jet2 stated that they were ‘incredibly sorry’ to hear about Tony’s experience and that they were working to resolve the situation.
After his incredible fundraising feat, the youngster who lost both legs due to abuse was on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Lapland funded by holiday specialists Canterbury Travel.
The holiday, which included a visit to Santa’s Grotto, had been given to the family as a result of Tony’s fundraising efforts and efforts to change the law regarding child abuse.
His adoptive sister Paula, 55, said the family had been ‘looking forward to it for such a long time’ before the trip.
‘I was diagnosed with bowel cancer,’ she continued. It’s been a difficult year, and I had emergency surgery six weeks ago.
‘Thankfully, everything is fine now, and I can’t wait to spend time with my family and create some magical memories.’
‘It’s been my goalpost throughout the year to be well enough to go and make those memories.’
‘It has also arrived at the perfect time. Our family needed a vacation. We simply cannot wait.’
Tony was hailed as a hero by Prince William and wife Kate for his extraordinary fundraising walks to help vulnerable children.
After being inspired by Sir Captain Tom Moore, who raised more than £33 million walking in his backyard, he set out to walk 10km in 30 days in 2020 to raise £500 for the hospital that saved his life.
Last year, a foundation established in his name to improve the lives of children affected by physical, emotional, or psychological abuse provided over 700 Christmas presents for children in need, and he hopes to match that this year.
And his efforts are set to be bolstered by Father Christmas himself, who plans to surprise the youngster with a £5,000 donation to the Tony Hudgell Foundation.
Tony’s incredible efforts come despite a traumatic start to life that included 23 operations and eight blood transfusions.