The last year was challenging for President Martyn Race and his family. He is the president of the Carlisle Branch in the Preston Stake and along with his wife, Gillian, and their two boys, they have faced enormous challenges, which have taxed their spiritual and emotional reserves during this year.
Previously, their son, Joseph Race, had been diagnosed as being on the Autistic Spectrum, which has implications for schooling and home. Then, in November 2016, aged 10, came along an additional, and even greater and life changing condition, that of Leukaemia. Joseph was rushed more than 50 miles away to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Children’s Hospital where treatment began immediately. Joseph was very poorly and the treatment often has severe side effects. Martyn and Gillian take it in turns to be with, comfort and support Joseph throughout all of his many sessions of treatment.
It was with great pleasure, therefore when a letter from an organisation called ‘Brave Hearts of the North’ was received confirming that Joseph had successfully been nominated a Brave Heart Award at the 2017 awards. There were 27 other children with various life threatening conditions who had shown enormous courage, fortitude, resilience, and optimism in facing their condition and the frequent severe treatments and operations, which they are undergoing.
The children and their families were treated to a wonderful afternoon in one of the large lounges at St James’s Park, the home of Newcastle United Football Club, during the afternoon of the 27th November 2017. There was acknowledgement that these children and their parents were facing enormous difficulties. Yet despite this, they are moving forward with great courage and hope for the future. Presenting the awards were Carol Malia, a television presenter on BBC’s ‘Look North’ programme and Josef Craig, a Paralympic swimming gold medallist and former awardee in 2013.
Each awardee was invited to the podium one by one. As they approached the podium, their condition was outlined as they received a Brave Heart crystal plaque award from Carol and Josef, which was accompanied by a photo shoot and much applause and appreciation by the audience. After being presented with their awards, they were then presented with a gift from the Brave Hearts foundation by Newcastle United legend former captain Bob Moncur. There were some great presents such as Xboxes and iPads. Joseph was presented with three enormous boxes of Lego including Nexo Knights and Simpson’s, with which he was thrilled and delighted.
The Race family has handled this difficult situation with great fortitude and along with the members of the Carlisle Branch and the Preston Stake, who continue to fast and pray for Joseph and the family, are looking forward to the day when Joseph gets the ‘ALL CLEAR.’