Family of fundraiser Tony Hudgell hopes Kate gets well and rests

The Princess of Wales has been sent warm wishes for a speedy recovery by the family of an inspirational child fundraiser who urged her not to try to be “superwoman” and rush back to work too soon.

Double amputee Tony Hudgell, nine, who counts Kate as a “number one supporter”, became the youngest person to feature in the New Year Honours when he was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the prevention of child abuse.

The youngster from Kent, has raised more than £1.8 million for charity since he was five, including £500,000 that went to a children’s surgery unit officially opened by Kate last month.

Together At Christmas community carol service
Tony Hudgell, then seven, with his mother Paula Hudgell, meeting the royal couple at a carol service at Westminster Abbey in 2021 (Heathcliff O’Malley/PA).

Tony’s mother Paula Hudgell said: “She is very special to us. She has been absolutely wonderful and has been a number one supporter through Tony’s fundraising and everything with the hospital.”

Speaking as Kate spent a third day in hospital recuperating from abdominal surgery, she added: “Get well soon, but take your time.

“We all try to think we are superwoman, especially when we have got children.

“She needs to take her time and not rush back to things. Take each day as it comes.”

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Paula Hudgell is made an OBE by the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle (Yui Mok/PA)

Tony was 41 days old when he was assaulted by his birth parents, an attack which caused multiple fractures and dislocations, and blunt trauma to the face, leading to organ failure, toxic shock and sepsis.

He was left untreated and in agony for 10 days and because of the extent of his injuries both his legs had to be amputated.

Jody Simpson and her partner Anthony Smith were jailed for 10 years in 2018.

Paula and Mark Hudgell fostered Tony when he was six weeks old and adopted him at 17 months in 2016. The BEM came a year after Paula was made an OBE in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to children.

Kate wrote to Tony after the BEM was announced, congratulating him on the honour. It “was a nice personal little note”, Mrs Hudgell said.

She added: “She has just been so kind and thoughtful. They do have a great relationship. She is just so warm and down to earth.

“She is a mum and she just gets it. Tony absolutely adores her.”

Tony Hudgell fundraising walk
Tony Hudgell has raised more than £1.8 million for charity (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Tony’s first challenge came when he was inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore raising £38.9 million for the NHS, by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday at the height of the first national Covid-19 lockdown in April 2020.

He decided to try to raise £509 by walking 10km (6.2 miles) on his prosthetic legs, the money going to the Evelina Children’s Hospital in central London, which had treated him when he was taken there injured.

His challenge captured people’s hearts and minds and he smashed his fundraising target.

Mrs Hudgell recalled feeling “overwhelmed” last month as Tony and Kate met at the official opening of a children’s surgery unit at the hospital, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Mrs Hudgell said: “She was just so wonderful with him. She spent ages (with him). They were chatting, smiling and it was just so overwhelming.

“It was just so lovely. It is not every day your little boy is sitting there having a good old conversation with our future queen.”