Global emergency crews help student surprise disabled brother
- Credit: Submitted by Capital City College Group
Emergency service workers from around the world have helped an Islington student pull together a festive surprise for his disabled brother this Christmas.
Jack Andree, a Tower Hamlets boy with cerebral palsy, was admitted to hospital weighing just three stone in November when his condition caused his body to stop absorbing nutrients in food.
The 12-year-old had already undergone surgery in August after he had muscle spasms while sleeping and dislocated his hip.
Brendan Croft, 18, who has his mother's married name and is Jack’s full older brother, came up with the idea to compile a video of messages from family and friends as a surprise Christmas present for Jack.
As Brendan is studying for a public services diploma at City and Islington College, he asked his tutor Nigel Lewis, a former Met Police officer, for help sourcing messages for the gift.
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Nigel contacted his former colleagues, and within 24 hours they were inundated with offers of videos from police, fire, ambulance and military staff in the UK, New York, Texas, Australia, New Zealand and Gibraltar.
Brendan said: "He’s had a really tough year and I felt he really deserved something extra special. He loves TV programmes like Fireman Sam, Paw Patrol, London’s Burning and Ambulance, and anything about public services, because they’re the superheroes he sees nearly every day.”
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Among the well-wishers were firefighters from Philadelphia, soldiers from the Australian Army, and nurses from Tara Hospital in Queensland.
Brendan added: “I had no idea it would reach so far and get around the world, especially as quick as it did. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to everyone. I’m so thankful and honoured to them for doing this and making this Christmas dream come true for Jack."
Nigel said: “Brendan is one of the most wonderful young men I have had the pleasure to meet and teach, his heart is so warm. He smiles every day and cares so much for his brother."
After Jack’s hip operation and while their mum Keely was pregnant with their new-born sister Eva Thomas, Brendan spent many hours at Jack's hospital bedside.
Keely Croft, 38, said: “Bringing up a child with cerebral palsy is not easy from the minute they’re diagnosed. What Brendan has done for Jack is so special. When I think I couldn’t be any prouder of him, he does something even more thoughtful and caring."