2021 Winner

Hughie Higginson and Freddie Xavi

Best pals have raised more than £200,000 after Hughie was diagnosed with Leukaemia and Freddie vowed to help him thank his doctors and nurses.

Hughie, 11 was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia last September and began three and a half years of treatment at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. He wanted to say thank you to the medics looking after him so he signed up for the hospital charity’s fundraising walk.

Sadly, on the day he was too ill to take part, which is when best friend Freddie, 10, stepped up. He devised his own fundraising challenge on behalf of his pal, running 2km every day in the 50 days leading up to Christmas.

He completed the final 2km on Christmas morning, pounding the streets before opening his presents. Hughie summoned all his strength to join his mate on the final stretch so they could cross the line together, hand-in-hand.

The football-mad boys’ inspirational friendship, and incredible fundraising efforts touched hearts in their Lancashire community and beyond, and the pair have now raised more than £220,000.

Georgia Sleigh from the hospital charity said: “Freddie and Hughie are just incredible – words just don’t do justice to how inspiring they both are.”

Freddie’s mum Sarah said: “The way Freddie took it upon himself to support his best friend Hughie through treatment was extraordinary for a boy of ten, never once did he waiver in motivation and drive to complete the challenges he set himself despite the cold winter weather and late nights. We are so incredibly proud of his selflessness.”

Hughie’s mum Katy said: “Even though he is going through so many rounds of hard chemo, Hughie has told us so many times how lucky he is – that people are willing to donate and that he has a friend like Freddie.

“We are incredibly proud of Hughie’s positivity and resilience and the way he has dealt with everything. Winning a Pride of Britain award is a wonderful way to end what has been a very difficult year.”