A dream came true for Joe Wilding from North Swindon when former England rugby captain Lewis Moody visited his Year 4 class St Francis Primary School, Taw Hill to take a special rugby related PE class on 15 May.
On his Joe’s Battle Twitter profile* Joe writes: ‘I’m 8 years old diagnosed at 5 years old with a brain stem tumour. I’ve already had five hours of brain surgery in 2009 and again in 2012 and 18 months chemotherapy. But I’m winning.’
Joe set it up his Twitter page in July last year asking for follows and uplifting messages of support as he faced scans, operations and chemotherapy sessions, and keeping them up to date with progress.
As a keen rugby player with Supermarine RFC, he started tweeting sports stars like Lewis, Jonny Wilkinson, Owen Farrell, Usain Bolt and Tom Daley, and also celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Myleene Klass and Alexander Armstrong.
Joe’s first series of tweets on 5 July 2012 explained his situation:
‘My Tumour has started growing again’
Followed by: ‘I have to face another operation on my brain stem. It will not cure me.’
During a brief break in the special lesson in the school hall Joe said: "I just started tweeting famous people last year asking them to send me messages and Lewis Moody started to follow me and offered to visit Swindon.
"I couldn’t believe it when mum told me Lewis wanted to meet me. We had a great PE lesson and we know how to pass, switch, tackle and score tries. I wish he could be my PE teacher everyday."
After the session Lewis sat down for lunch with children from St Francis Primary who play rugby at local clubs and answered a stream of questions about what it was like to play the game at the very highest level.
Joe’s mum Nicola said: "Since our cancer journey began, we’ve been totally overwhelmed by the support from individuals and charities, locally and nationally.
"People we don’t even know have put money in their pockets or brightened up a child’s day with a surprise. When the Twitter page was set up, we never dreamed that someone like Lewis would want to meet up with Joe.
"I just wanted to get him through his hospital stay in one piece. The children in Joe’s class had a great session with Lewis and the staff enjoyed meeting a thoroughly down-to-earth superstar."
* Joe’s Battle twitter stream is the second he has set up after log-in details to the first were lost. Joe sent out 325 tweets and had 70 followers before he had to switch to @superjoew1ding which went live on 4 May where he announced his birthday on 20 May. He currently has 47 followers and he would love many more followers.
Joe’s a media superstar too
In July 2011 Make-A-Wish Foundation® UK arranged for Joe to visit Prime Minister David Cameron at No 10 Downing Street where they talked about serious business like attending the Royal Wedding, the PMs favourite football team, whether schools should serve chocolate cake for breakfast, and how the government should deal with litter. Read more at www.swindonlink.com/news/david-cameron-grants-childs-wish-to-be-the-pm
Later that year in November Joe met Myleene Klass to help launch the Fairy Make-A-Wish Foundation® UKcampaign to encourage the people of Swindon to help grant the wishes of children and young people fighting life-threatening illnesses. See www.swindonlink.com/news/joe-from-swindon-joins-myleene-in-fairy-campaign
Below, Joe with Lewis and his St Francis primary classmates