Original article from Kent Live
A six-year-old double amputee from Tonbridge had his dreams come true after meeting football hero Mason Mount earlier this month.
Tony Hudgell was just 41-days-old when he was admitted to hospital in 2014 with horrendous injuries inflicted by his birth parents at a house in Maidstone, losing both legs as a result.
Tony took a trip to Chelsea Cobham training ground last week, where he got to meet many of his idols, including midfield star Mason Mount.
His adoptive mum Paula Hudgell, of Kings Hill, said: "We were invited to visit Cobham 18 months ago but because of lockdown it got postponed.
"Tony was so excited to meet all the players and Mason actually came back to play with him.
"He was so lovely taking the time to do that with Tony – it was just wonderful."
Mount, 22, can be seen passing the ball to Tony in a video posted online, and Tony uses his crutches to pass back to the midfielder .
He also posed for photos with football stars Thiago Silva, Reece James, César Azpilicueta and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Paula added: "Tony is a Chelsea fan through and through. He's a long time fan of Mason Mount and he loves Jack Grealish.
"He's also a big Gillingham fan locally."
Paula posted on Twitter: "Not every day you get to kick a ball about with your #Hero @masonmount_10 @chelseafc @nike #legend #dreamsdocometrue #bluearmy #doubleamputee #neverevergiveup."
Alongside photos of Tony and his football heroes she added: "It's been a long 18 month wait but what a fantastic day Tony had at Chelsea's training day at Cobham.
"Thank you so much @CFCFoundation & @ChelseaFC for making dreams come true #bluefamily."
Tony is part of the English Lionheart squad, the Football Association's chosen group of 23 everyday heroes – inspirational individuals who went above and beyond during the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
He will be representing the Lionhearts at the England v Andorra 2022 FIFA Men's World Cup qualifier, where he hopes to meet hero Mason Mount again.
Tony, who will be going into year two at school in September, was born to birth parents Tony Smith and Jody Simpson in 2014.
The pair subjected him to horrific abuse during the first few months of his life.
He suffered severe fractures to his thighbones, lower legs, right ankle, left thumb and toes, which experts later concluded would have been caused by yanking, pulling and twisting with considerable force.
He came close to death and was diagnosed with septicaemia from his injuries.
The youngster was given extensive treatment for his life-changing injuries and was eventually discharged in February 2015.
Upon leaving hospital, he was taken on by foster parents Mark and Paula Hudgell, of Kings Hill, who have since adopted him.
He has become a national treasure, walking over 10km on his new prosthetic legs in June 2020 to raise over £1million for Evelina London Children’s Hospital, and being awarded the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award.
His birth parents were jailed for 10 years in February 2018.
In February 2019 Tony attended the House of Commons with his adoptive parents for the introduction of Tony’s Law.
The proposed law aims to increase the maximum sentence for child cruelty offences from 10 years, which Tony’s birth parents received, to life imprisonment.
Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat has been fighting to get the law changed on Tony's behalf.
Paula said: "Tom is very very confident that we will get the change.
He's been an absolute rock and incredible with us as a family.
"He is just so supportive and has been with us every step of the way."
Tony is set to undergo more surgery to fix the damage to his jaw caused by his birth parents.
Paula said: "There was more trauma to the face then we originally thought – his jaw hasn't grown and he will need metal plates put in it.
"It seems as soon as we get over one obstacle there seems to be more and more injuries coming forward.
"It's a case of what did they not do to him, rather than what they did to him."
Despite his life-changing injuries, Paula said herself and her husband Mark have never wrapped Tony in cotton wool.
She added: "He's such a happy-go-lucky boy – he gets on with it all and takes it in his stride.
"It really affects me though, I get so upset."