HUNDREDS of sick and lonely children were given the party of a lifetime thanks to one ‘inspirational’ teenager.
Selfless Lewis Hine, 16, gave 300 youngsters the full red carpet treatment at a special prom in their honour.
The remarkable Havant student used his Friend Finder website to organise the night-long spectacular at Portsmouth’s Guildhall yesterday.
Set up in 2015, the website gives young people who miss school because of illness or disability the chance to make friends and socialise.
And after lots of success at monthly meet-ups, Lewis decided to step things up and create an unforgettable event for children who could not go to their own school prom because of health problems.
Now, with the first event behind him, Lewis and his family are determined to go global and help lonely children across the world.
Lewis – who spent much of his life in and out of hospital after being diagnosed with a brain tumour – said: ‘It’s hard to put into words how proud I am. It’s made all the hard work worth it.’
An army of volunteers rallied to support Lewis’s effort, from businesses to family friends and other children.
More than 200 dazzling prom dresses were donated for the night, with attendees given a full make-over.
While others helped to transform Guildhall into an elegant banquet hall.
And as the stunned youngsters stepped into the building they were greeted by a sea of paparazzi ready to snap them on the red carpet.
Among those to be treated was 17-year-old Megan Wilson, of Waterlooville.
The brave teenager has a range of complex medical issues which has left her unable to go to school events.
She said: ‘What he has done is absolutely amazing.’
Mum Debbie Wilson, 58, was overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of all of those involved in the project.
‘We will never be able to thank Lewis enough,’ she said. ‘We’re just so grateful and humbled by everything he has done for us.’
As the night carried on, guests were invited into Guildhall’s main hall, which was decked with tables, chairs and a starlight wall.
Lewis’s efforts were made all the more remarkable as only the night before he had suffered a series of serious seizures which cast doubt over whether he was fit enough to attend the prom.
His mum Emma was blown away by her son’s courage and determination to be there last night.
She said: ‘Last night he had four major seizures and I didn’t actually think he would make it today. He has been really struggling.
‘He struggles to read and write; he had an epileptic fit during his GCSE English exam last week.
‘His life is a daily challenge and yet he rises above it to prove that if you work hard and follow your dreams you can achieve anything.
‘I keep trying to get him to rest but he insists on coming in and helping others. He is a trooper.
She added: ‘Lewis is one-of-a-kind. Not only has he amazed us all fighting his illness but even when he is feeling down and struggling he just gets up and he is so positive.
‘We’re massively proud of everything he does. He is a little star.’
Erin Sedgewick, of Wymering Lane, Wymering, has a form of dyspraxia and auto-immune issues which leave her feeling weak and reliant on a wheelchair.
The 11-year-old said she was shocked when she opened a glitter-filled invite from Lewis to the prom.
‘It’s really good,’ she added. ‘I have been made to feel really special.’
Mum Claire, 39, said: ‘Lewis and his whole family are inspirational. It just goes above and beyond what they have done tonight.’
As previously reported in The News, Lewis was named Hero of the Year at the Radio 1 Teen Awards at Wembley Arena, in October last year.
He was recognised for his hard work in starting Friend Finder.
In March a video he recorded after his 16th birthday went viral.
It led to a phone call from megastar Elton John, who praised the youngster’s courage.