Inspirational Matilda Booth has charmed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the annual WellChild Awards - and captured the hearts of thousands in the process.
Seven-year-old Matilda, from Sowerby Bridge, was at the awards to receive the Inspirational Child award after being nominated by her mum Sharon.
Matilda has Spina Bifida and is completely paralysed from the chest down, she has a shunt in her brain which she will need for life to prevent life-threatening pressure building up.
Her shunt has blocked six times since birth so she has had seven major open brain surgeries as well as a 12 hour operation at birth to close her spine. She has other brain abnormalities which have resulted in some learning difficulties and she is very high risk for seizures.
Her meeting with Prince Harry, who became Patron of WellChild in 2007, and Meghan was seen and liked thousands of times online.
“Matilda presented The Duchess of Sussex with a posy of flowers that was made by my friend Jade Reilly, who owns Flowers by Jade in Ovenden, and Meghan gave Matilda a rose back to keep and it was all over the media,” said Sharon.
“Jade did the flowers as a goodwill gesture for us not realising the massive publicity it would bring.
“The flowers were a massive hit and Meghan loved them. Prince Harry asked where his was!
“They were both amazing, Meghan is so beautiful and they both were so friendly and seemed genuinely interested in Matilda’s story. Matilda is going to write them both a thank you letter and send it to them
“Prince Harry also made a pinky promise with Matilda and told her she had the most beautiful smile and to never stop smiling.”
Matilda spent most of her early years in hospital, she had numerous infections as her immunity was very poor. In 2013 she developed intestinal failure which meant she could not absorb any milk or feed.
This resulted in all feeds via tube being stopped and Matilda had a central line placed in her heart and all nutrition is given via this line. She also has brittle bones and her body cannot control her blood sugars which means she needs intravenous glucose pumped into her heart.
“What makes Matilda inspirational is her overall zest for life, her courage, strength and determination,” said Sharon. “She never cries, never complains about her disability, never complains she cannot run and chase her siblings or ride a bike with them. Even when there are barriers in her way she never feels sorry for herself.
“She has the biggest heart and smile ever. She cares about other people and hates seeing anyone sad. She will always ask what’s wrong and try to cheer them up. She has daily medical procedures, she is attached to IV pumps day and night and spends an hour a night being very patient whilst we swap all her infusions over which Matilda assists with and is like a little nurse. She wants to be a nurse when she grows up and help other people with disabilities.”
The WellChild children’s charity helps get seriously ill children and young people out of hospital and home to their families.