Mad Hatter’s Tea Party brings cheer

FUN Children enjoy watching the clowns at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Marriott Hotel in Cosham.  Pictures: Allan Hutchings (120679-624)
FUN Children enjoy watching the clowns at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Marriott Hotel in Cosham. Pictures: Allan Hutchings (120679-624)
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LITTLE Braydon McDowell is a living miracle.

The three-year-old nearly died when he was three months old and suffering from a blood clot on his brain.

IN STEP Entertainers show the children some dance moves ''(120679-518)

IN STEP Entertainers show the children some dance moves ''(120679-518)

Doctors at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham spent an hour trying to revive him after he stopped breathing.

Eventually Braydon pulled through, and although he now suffers from cerebral palsy he joined hundreds of youngsters who were guests of honour at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party on Sunday.

Hundreds of children were invited to the massive bash at the Marriott Hotel in North Harbour held every year for children who have recovered from – or are living with – life-threatening illnesses.

Braydon’s father Robert, 47, said: ‘He died for just over an hour; he had total body shutdown.

‘He went to sleep one night but didn’t wake up in the night or the next morning. He eventually woke up but then he stopped breathing.

‘I was devastated. They rushed him to QA and they were going to stop after about an hour.

‘Then a doctor shone his torch into his eyes and got the tiniest little response. He said all the while he was getting a response he would keep going and I’m so glad he did.’

Robert says it is a testament to the staff at QA that both he and his son are alive today.

The 47-year-old, of Vadne Gardens in Gosport, suffered a heart attack last year.

Emergency doctors worked on him for an hour and saw him make a full recovery.

Robert added: ‘The paramedic saw me afterwards and said she had never heard of someone surviving like I did in the 20 years she had been working.

‘I am so grateful to the staff at QA for everything they have done for me and my family.

‘Although my wife is the real star. She deserves a medal. Events like the tea party are great for the kids and Braydon’s sister Ashleigh gets to come too and she has been through a lot.’

Many of the children invited to the party are from cancer wards at QA and Southampton General Hospital.

EastEnders actor Steve McFadden, best known for his role as Phil Mitchell, was invited to meet the children and sign autographs.

He said: ‘I was really pleased to be invited. It was lovely and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

‘I brought my own family along with me and they really enjoyed it as well.

‘There was lots going on and it’s great to see the youngsters enjoying themselves.’

Children got the chance to pose for photos with meerkats and other animals at a miniature zoo.

The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Cheryl Buggy, was invited to judge a competition for the child with the best-decorated hat.

Cllr Buggy said: ‘This event has absolutely everything a child would want from a party.

‘The whole thing is about the children and it is wonderful.

‘When you have a child in the family who is ill it is often easy to forget about their brothers and sisters too, so this is a great thing for them to be able to come along.’

Pompey legend Linvoy Primus dropped in to meet the youngsters and sign autographs for them.

Hotel staff gave up their day off to come in and help as volunteers.

Organiser Malcolm Drew said: ‘It has been great.

‘When we started this 11 years ago we had a couple of clowns and a DJ, and look what we have now.

‘It’s great because it is a family event and it has gone really well.’

Firefighters from Cosham fire station were on hand to show youngsters the inside of a fire engine and officers from Hampshire Constabulary danced with the children inside.

The event was sponsored by a number of firms including the Marriott Hotel, Waitrose and the Little People’s Nursery.