FOR months, Frankie Mould watched at the school gates as his big brother went to classes.
But soon, the brave little three-year-old from Hylton Castle will get to enjoy school for himself and he just can’t wait.
It’s a huge step forward for a little boy who was clinging on to life just 18 months ago, as he fought the flesh-eating disease necrotising fasciitis at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
It is so rare, it only affects one in a million children and Frankie has pulled through months of painful treatment in an astonishing fightback.
Now, he’s a smiling little boy who loves playing with his toys – and can’t wait to start school.
Older brother Kayne, aged four, takes classes at the Bexhill Academy, in Bexhill Road, Town End Farm. But Frankie will become a pupil himself when he starts there in January.
“He used to want to go in himself when Kayne did,” said full-time mum Lucy Dove, 27 “I’ll be worried when he goes in but I have to let him be a normal little boy.”
But behind the smiles, Frankie is still a tender little lad who needs daily care.
He has to constantly wear a specialised suit to keep pressure applied to the skin grafts which he needed after contracting necrotising fasciitis.
“He is still on lots of medication as well,” said Lucy. “He has his good days and his bad days.”
Nearly one year ago, the two brave boys hit the Echo headlines when they were among the winners of our annual community awards. Now the new-look competition – complete with a fresh name of The Best of Wearside Awards – is back again and Lucy has urged readers to come forward with nominations.
“If anyone has someone in mind, someone who deserves to be nominated, I would 100 per cent encourage them to think about coming forward.
“It can make a huge difference. When Frankie won his trophy last year, it was fantastic. This infection is so rare that something like this really raises awareness. After what he has been through and what he has overcome, it was great for him to be recognised.”
Frankie made national headlines last year after he was diagnosed and underwent major skin reconstruction on his back, chest and leg to save his little body.
It wasn’t the necrotising fasciitis but Scarlett fever, severe tonsillitis and a wound infection which combined to make him poorly.
Lucy said: “I can’t believe how strong he is. When he had his first operation, it lasted nine-and-a-half hours and it was fidgety surgery. They came back and told us he was just alive.”
“They said it was up to Frankie now to fight this. We didn’t really take it in. We were in shock, on autopilot. We needed a miracle and we got it.”
We’re hoping Frankie’s story inspires people to nominate their heroes for this year’s awards.
•Enter your nominations here: http://www.jpne-events.co.uk/best-of-wearside/