Archie Holder-McNish is all smiles as he enjoys his first ever birthday party - at the age of four.
And what an occasion it was for Wearside’s little soldier who has never before been able to have a party because of his battle with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
Little hero Archie has fought ALL since he was just 18 months old.
His life has been a constant round of lumbar punctures, blood transfusions and regular doses of chemotherapy to kill the leukaemia cells.
Proud mum Nicola Holder, 33, said: “We never thought we would get to the stage where he could have a party because of the risk of infection.
“But to look at him now, you would never think that there was anything wrong with him.”
We’ve got the award out so everyone can see it. And every now and then, Archie will tell people ‘that’s what I got for being brave@Nicola Holder
Archie got to enjoy a day of fun with his friends from nursery. Nicola added: “Hospital had been a way of life for him as he didn’t know anything different.
“He loved his birthday. He was up and about and playing with toys.”
It was just the latest boost in what has been a total change in fortunes for the Hylton Lane Estate youngster.
In October, he will be the page boy at the wedding of his proud parents Nicola and Thomas, 35, at the Quayside Exchange in Sunderland, with big sister Lily, nine, also there as flower girl.
Archie was also a Child of Courage winner at last year’s Echo Best of Wearside Awards.
And as she looked back on the difference it made to her little boy, Nicola said: “We’ve got the award out so everyone can see it.
“And every now and then, Archie will tell people ‘that’s what I got for being brave’.
“He is so proud of it and we are so proud of him.”
She described the night as “absolutely amazing. It was humbling to hear all the stories of the winners. I can feel myself filling up when I think of it now.”
Nicola, who works as a teaching assistant at a school in Ryhope, urged other people to enter this year’s awards which were launched today.
She said: “It is so worth it. It is something that we as parents were so proud of and I would encourage other people to enter.”
We’re hoping to unearth some more incredible stories of bravery and courage - just like Archie. Find out how to enter in today’s paper.
In the meantime, little hero Archie is doing really well. Hopes are now high that his treatment will finish next April.
Archie and Lily both attend St Anne’s Primary School, in Pennywell.
A big year beckons for Archie who starts in reception class next year.
In the meantime, he continues his treatment - although it is done mostly at home now, in another sign of his progress.
Enter the Best of Wearside Awards
We are calling on people across Wearside and East Durham to recognise the real heroes of our area - the people who make a difference in the community.
It will all culminate on Thursday, November 19, when we hand out trophies to some fantastic people in areas such as child of achievement, child of courage, role model and community champion.
But first, we need Echo readers to nominate those deserving causes.
That’s where you come in. Get nominating and tell us all about the people who really do deserve to be declared as champions.
From now until the deadline of Monday, November 2, we will be looking for the very best in areas such as student of the year, sporting excellence, fundraiser of the year and green champion.
We also want to find a green champion, volunteer of the year, sports team of the year and lifetime achievement.
This year, the competition is being held in association with Vantec Europe Ltd.
To help us in our quest, we have also been backed by some fantastic category sponsors.
They are Calsonic, Gentoo, Martinos, TWR and UK Asbestos and we thank them all for their fantastic backing.
Joy Yates, Sunderland Echo Group Editor & Editorial Director of Johnston Press North East, said: “Wearside has many outstanding people who have succeeded against the odds.
“We also have so many heroes who have worked hard to make a difference in their communities.
“We want Echo readers to nominate all these people for an award. We want to hear about those who are constantly putting others before themselves as we want to be able to give them the recognition they deserve.
“We know our area is full of people who achieve extraordinary things so please tell us all about them, nominate them for an award and let’s reward them by making them champions of the community.” There are heroes galore out there who are worthy of awards but we want your help to find them. Tell us all about them.
To nominate, fill in the nomination form on this page or visit www.jpne-events.co.uk/best-of-wearside/ and fill in the online application form.