2023 Winner

Freya Harris

Schoolgirl cancer patient whose heartwarming bond with her dog inspired millions of people around the world.

Freya, eight, was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour in 2021, a rare form of kidney cancer that affects around one in 80 children in the UK each year.

Making it her mission to show others “dreams can come true”, the youngster from Horncastle, Lincs, not only competed at world-famous dog show Crufts earlier this year, but wowed the judges and placed second in her category along with much-loved dog Echo.

It was after her diagnosis that Freya’s parents Gemma and Rikki (CORR) decided to get their daughter an Australian Shepherd puppy last year as a way of encouraging her to go for walks after spending time in hospital for treatment.

Exceeding all expectations, Freya didn’t just go for walks with Echo, she also took up the hobby of dog showing, following a dream she’d had since watching Crufts on TV with former dog walker mum Gemma.

Despite challenges with her health, Freya’s determination to make it to Crufts remained steadfast with the youngster qualifying for the competition along with Echo having just left hospital in the early hours of the morning after receiving a transfusion.

Speaking before the event, Freya said: “That’s why I’m doing it, to help people fight and make dreams come true.”

Mum Gemma said Echo’s arrival had “opened up a whole new world” for her daughter, who she called “our little warrior.” She said: “She’s brought Freya so much confidence, she has really helped the family.”

Gemma, 34, added: “The feeling of pride we have for Freya is unbelievable, it’s just overflowing from all of us. She is the absolute dream of what a little girl should be. Freya’s into everything you’d think a typical little girl would love like Barbies, horses – and of course dogs.

“But she has such a zest for getting into the outdoors and going on adventures, that she searches for fun in everything she does. We’re so grateful because after two years of being so poorly, Freya is getting to enjoy some normality at the moment before more scans next month which will give us an update on how things are with her health.

“The most ordinary things bring her immense happiness, like a day at the beach or a morning at soft play, things she couldn’t do in the same way as everyone else during periods of her treatment, so we’re loving every second of life at the minute.

“To us, it’s hard to get our heads around the huge impression she’s made on other people through her relationship Echo because to us she’s our little Freya, but we couldn’t be happier or more proud of everything she’s achieved.”