A four-year-old Burnley boy has been nominated for a national award after helping his parents through the toughest time of their lives when his little brother was born 14 weeks prematurely.
Young Harry Carter proved he was a top big brother when Finlay was born at 26 weeks and the family spent the best part of the next year in and out of hospital.
His mum Sarah (28) was so impressed with Harry she nominated him for a Tommy’s Super Sibling award which celebrates a big brother or sister who has proven to be wise beyond their years after the early arrival of a new baby brother or sister.
Now she and Harry’s dad, Michael, from Rosegrove, are delighted to learn Harry has been shortlisted and the family will head to London in March for the grand final.
Sarah’s waters broke at 22 weeks in December 2013 and Finlay was delivered by emergency caesarean at 26 weeks after showing signs of distress. The first eight and a half months of his life were spent in hospital as he fought to overcome a number of problems, including difficulty breathing, after being born before his lungs were fully mature. But as his parents endured an emotional roller coaster, Harry proved to be a pillar of strength and comfort.
Finlay was very poorly for the first four weeks and his parents had him Baptised. He began to improve but went on to pick up an infection which required him to go back on ventilation. Harry finally got to meet his younger brother at five days old and gave him one of his own cuddly toys which now sits at the bottom of his cot every night.
At eight weeks old Finlay was transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital where he had to have surgery on a heart defect. At five months old, his breathing worsened again and he needed more and more ventilation. Finlay returned to Alder Hey for a second time where he was diagnosed with bronchomala, a narrowing of the airways.
Michael and Sarah moved to Liverpool to be closer to their baby, while Harry stayed with relatives during the week and visited the hospital at weekends. Despite being confined to the high dependency unit, Harry entertained himself and even the nurses would comment on how well behaved he was. During this time he also transferred from nursery to school and settled in well.
After three and a half months in Liverpool, Finlay was allowed home assisted by oxygen to help him breathe 24 hours a day and still requires ventilation at night.
The family say Harry still shows his protective streak, keeping a watchful eye on Finlay and shouting if he ever pulls out his breathing apparatus which he calls Finlay’s “energy boost machine”. He is careful around the equipment and understands it is there to help his brother. Harry also enjoys reading and playing with Finlay and sings to him when he is upset.
His mum, a midwife, said she wanted to let him know how proud she is of him by nominating him for the Center Parcs Super Sibling Award.
She said: “When Michael and I were down, Harry would always pick us up. He would climb on my knee and cuddle me and say everything is going to be okay. He just knew that extra hug and being extra good would make a difference. “He was well within his rights to be a little terror but he wasn’t. In our darkest times, it was our son who turned out to be our sunshine. We want him to know we’re really proud of him. He’s a wonderful big brother in every sense and he’s been an absolute superstar.”
Jane Brewin, Chief Executive of Tommy’s, said: “An extended stay in hospital can put a huge amount of strain on families, and can be particularly tough on young children. On all fronts, Harry proved to a real star during this time just by being his caring and happy self. We are delighted to shortlist him for the Center Parcs Super Sibling Award.”
The winners will be announced at the Tommy’s Awards in a star-studded ceremony at the Landmark Hotel, London, on March 20th.