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8-year-old double amputee stranded for five hours at Gatwick

Flight path of EZY8454 from Paphos to London Gatwick

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A double amputee’s family were left “appalled” after the eight-year-old boy was stuck at Gatwick Airport for hours this morning after his wheelchair got stuck on a plane. When Tony Hudgell’s wheelchair finally did show up after five hours of waiting, the family said it was “twisted and bent”.

Tony, a winner of the Pride of Britain award and who has been hailed as a hero by Prince William and Kate Middleton, was on his way back from Lapland with his family when disaster struck. As they disembarked their Jet2 plane in the early hours of this morning, his special wheelchair – which cost £6,500 – was nowhere to be seen.

Tony’s adoptive parents, Paula, 54, and Mark, 57, had even pre-booked assistance to help the youngster. They posted a picture of Tony, looking forlorn as he waited for his wheelchair, on Twitter.

The parents added that it was only after five hours that the wheelchair finally emerged – but had somehow been “twisted and bent” in the process.

Paula posted on Twitter at 3am: “Appalled with @jet2tweets @gatwick_airport have been stranded for 3 hrs now with no wheelchair as its still on the plane. 3am no help. Double amputee with no legs as his wheelchair is his legs.

“Trying to get help or assistance and nothing.”

She later added: “The luggage hadn’t come off either. Five hours later wheelchair appears on the conveyor belt bent and chipped. It was supposed to be there to get him off the plane but no it wasn’t.”

Jet2 responded to the tweet two hours later and said they were “incredibly sorry” for the incident.

They said: “Hi Tony, I am incredibly sorry to hear of your experience, we are currently trying to contact our team at LGW and we will look into fixing this for you. Also, please can you send us a DM with your booking reference number.”

However, Paula shot back: “Sorted now but five hours too late as far as a wheelchair user’s needs ignored. Assistance was booked in advance. Should have been sorted and when it did come out it was put on the conveyor belt and got twisted and bent.

“Full complaint on its way. Wheelchair cost us £6,500, so cross.”

Gatwick Airport also responded, and told the frustrated mother that they were “really sorry” for the incident. They added: “Dear Paula, we’re really sorry to read about what happened. Can you please share a contact for you in a Direct Message so we can investigate what happened.”

The family – Paula, Mark, Tony, brother Jaden and sisters Jess and Lace – then faced a difficult car journey home to Kent in the snow. Tony has raised over £1.7million for the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, which saved his life, after he had to have both his legs amputated at the knee due to horrific abuse by his biological parents.

He raised the money after being inspired to learn to walk on his NHS prosthetics after seeing Captain Tom’s fundraising walks over lockdown.

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Biological parents Jody Simpson, 24, and Anthony Smith, 27, had treated Tony horrifically, inflicting numerous limb fractures which developed into sepsis and multiple organ failure. They are now serving ten years in prison, as of February 2018.

Tony had to undergo 23 operations and eight blood transfusions to live.

Earlier this year the government introduced Tony’s Law, which increased the maximum jail terms for those convicted of child cruelty offences.

A Gatwick Airport spokesperson said: “We are aware of this awful situation and apologise for the distress caused to the Hudgell family. This is unacceptable and we have picked it up as a matter of urgency with the airline, Jet2, and their ground handler, Menzies. We experienced significant disruption last night and had to close the airport for a two-hour period for safety reasons.”

Jet2 has been contacted by Express.co.uk for comment.

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