Ever since best friends Hughie Higginson and Freddie Xavi were nominated for the Pride of Britain award almost a year ago, their lives have been, in what they say, “crazy”.
First there was the shock of receiving trophies from Dan Walker at the Pride of Manchester Awards hosted by Kym Marsh.
Then Ant and Dec jumped out of a red phone box at the I’m a Celebrity Jungle Challenge in Manchester and surprised her with invitations to the Pride of Britain Awards in London.
At the ceremony, which was watched by millions of ITV viewers, the couple were named Good Morning Britain’s Young Fundraisers of the Year and received their awards from Sir Mo Farrah and rapper KSI before linking up with the likes of Holly Willoughby, Simon Cowell and Sharon Stone mixed.
The boys from Ribble Valley, Lancashire have since won hearts with their TV and radio interviews, received heroic receptions at school and even got recognized on the street.
Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
Ahead of the nominations for this year’s Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards, which open today in partnership with TSB, Freddie, 11, says: “Everything has been crazy since we won the Pride of Britain. We still can’t believe stars like Sir Rod Stewart asked to be photographed with us at the ceremony – we thought we’d ask them.
“We’ve done so many TV interviews that we don’t get nervous anymore. And when I went back to school, my class tunneled me in with their arms and cheered me on. Me and my father were even recognized on the street. It was crazy.”
Hughie, 12, says: “We made new friends with the other winners and are still in touch. We all say Pride of Britain doesn’t feel real because it was so brilliant.
“Our trophies are on the top shelves in our rooms because the top shelves represent our top priorities. And we are still collecting donations – we still have a lot to do.”
Lancashire boys Freddie from Whalley and Hughie from Higham raised an incredible £220,000 for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Hughie has been treated there for acute lymphoblastic leukemia since September 2020.
To thank the staff for taking such good care of him, he signed up for the hospital charity’s fundraiser run. But that day was too ill to participate, so Freddie developed his own fundraiser and ran 2km every day for the 50 days leading up to Christmas.
He completed the final 2km on Christmas morning, stomping through the streets before opening his presents. Hughie mustered all his strength to join his pal on the final stretch so they could cross the finish line hand in hand.
“Everyone kept saying they were proud of us and that we had done something really nice, special,” recalls Freddie of the Pride of Britain Awards. “Both of our dads were in tears when we came off the stage and there were lots of big hugs. It was nice to see our parents so proud. All the people we met were so nice. And the best part was having each other there.”
Hughie still can’t get over how many treats he’s enjoyed since receiving the nomination. “We had to choose cool suits together and we were happy to wear them. We went to London and Pride of Britain gave us a list of places to go and we chose the Sea Life Center. The night before the ceremony we had a big winners dinner. It was crazy that celebrities wanted to see us and congratulate us at the ceremony.
“We were then invited into the Houses of Parliament and were in the room where the Queen slept before her coronation. The announcer, Lindsay Hoyle, gave us a tour of the chambers and he said we could call him whenever we came to London.
“At school I got chocolate, balloons and cards. There were so many beautiful things I would not have done without Pride of Britain and I can hardly remember them all.”
Hughie has two more years of leukemia treatment ahead of him. But he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of his fundraising – and of course Freddie is at his side every step of the way.
Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)
Hughie says, “I take chemo pills every day. But once a month I have a snake and steroids that make me a little sick and emotional so it’s a tough week.
“But I think I’m fine, I’m more mobile and I’m back in school. And me and Freddie have to work because we wanted to do something together.”
The boys started Freddie and Hughie’s 100k soccer challenge on Boxing Day and set up a JustGiving account to help children’s hospitals across the country.
Freddie says: “We walk around all 92 Premier League and English Football League football stadiums. We started at our beloved Turf Moor, Burnley. And we’re going to do more reasons to make it 100, so we run 100km, which is a little nod to my first 100km.
“We pass on the money raised to the children’s hospital closest to the football field. We’ve done seven so far, so it’s down to 93.”
This year the boys are going to secondary school together, but fame has a downside. “Because a lot of people know our faces, we don’t get away with any trouble,” says Hughie. “That’s the thing about fame.”
Nominate now at prideofbritain.com/nominate
Who should win a Pride of Britain Award 2022?
You can nominate anyone of any age for a Pride of Britain award. It can be for a single act of incredible bravery, a prolonged battle against adversity, or an inspirational campaign.
Please select the category you think is most appropriate from the list below. Don’t worry if you’re not sure – some nominees may fit into more than one category, so the Pride of Britain team will ensure that all nominations are considered for the most appropriate award.
Winners will be selected by the Pride of Britain jury from a shortlist prepared by the Pride of Britain research team, taking into account every public nomination received.
Here are the categories:
TSB COMMUNITY HERO AWARD
For someone who makes remarkable efforts to help others live their best lives.
ITV Fundraiser of the Year
For tireless and inspiring fundraising for charities aged 18+.
GOOD MORNING BRITISH YOUNG FUNDER OF THE YEAR
To reward a young person under the age of 17 for inspiring charity work.
THIS MORNING EMERGENCY SERVICES AWARD
For police, firefighters, ambulances, paramedics or air, sea or mountain rescue who have stepped outside of the box.
For adults who risk their own safety to help others in danger.
For fighting against adversity, to help others, or putting yourself in danger to save someone in danger.
To recognize far-reaching achievements, possibly at a national or international level.
For services that are not included in other categories, such as B. inspirational carers, activists and members of the armed forces.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/pride-britain-awards-return-see-27234109 Pride of Britain Awards return - see how to nominate your everyday heroes