Ben's courage shines on TV

MILLIONS of television viewers last night watched in admiration as a 10-year-old boy from Suffolk who has shown enormous courage in the face of adversity was nominated one of the bravest youngsters in the country.

MILLIONS of television viewers last night watched in admiration as a 10-year-old boy from Suffolk who has shown enormous courage in the face of adversity was nominated one of the bravest youngsters in the country.

Ben Housson was one of only four children to be given a Child of Courage award in a competition organised by GMTV and a national newspaper to recognise outstanding achievement.

Ben, a pupil at Orwell Park School, Nacton, near Ipswich, celebrated his 10th birthday a few days ago and during the award presentation ceremony at the Hilton Hotel Sir Paul McCartney sang a special rendition of Happy Birthday for Ben and his brother Max, who was 13 yesterday.

Ben has survived massive brain damage which occurred when a 100 kilo ship's wheel ornament fell on his head in France in 1996 while he was with his mother Katrina Housson and his brother. He lost a third of his body's blood. Doctors told his family to prepare for the worst. Ben's condition suddenly improved and he came out of hospital, only to have another brain haemorrhage.

Ben, who has also had meningitis, has been left without hearing or sight in his right ear and eye and he has residual paralysis on one side of the body.

But Ben has taken all his handicaps in his stride. He said: ''I don't really think about what I've been through. I just get on with things because there's so much to do.''

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Ben, already the holder of a Child of Achievement award with his brother, added: ''It feels weird having so much attention when all I've done is try to get better.''

The judges said: ''Ben is an example to everyone, young and old alike. His zest for life shows you can still flourish even after a terrible accident like this.''

Ben lives with his grandmother Patricia Salisbury in Nacton and she said: ''Ben gets on with life. He is indomitable, he is unbelievable. He plays football as though he will be picked for a squad and when he gets on a pitch he looks at the boots of the opposing goalkeeper and then he knows who he has to beat. It humbles you.''

Ben plays football and hockey for his school and he was thrilled when he met Arsenal defender Sol Campbell at the ceremony and was presented with a club shirt signed by the players. Ben supports Arsenal and he will attend a training session and watch them play Newcastle in the Premiership.

Campbell said Ben was a ''true hero.'' He added: ''For a 10-year-old boy he has achieved so much already.''

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