Wednesday 2nd May 2012
Ernie Brown, 4, who is in remission from cancer was granted his wish to be a steam train driver by Make-A-Wish Foundation UK. See PA Community Newswire story CHARITY Ernie for full details.
A four-year-old who was diagnosed with eye cancer as a baby has been granted his wish to be a steam-train driver for a day.
Train-mad Ernie Brown, from Saffron Walden, in Essex, told Make-A-Wish Foundation UK that he wanted to drive the Tornado steam train which he had seen on an episode of BBC's Top Gear.
In the programme, the presenters race the Tornado against a Jaguar and a motorbike. Ernie loved the episode so much he watched it over and over again while he was ill.
After being diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma, Ernie endured six cycles of chemotherapy and underwent operations every three weeks for the first three years of his life. After his second birthday his condition seriously deteriorated and he had to have a further five cycles of chemotherapy.
He is now in remission, but is severely visually impaired and continues to be closely monitored.
Make-A-Wish arranged for Ernie and his family to travel to Barrow Hill Roundhouse, in Chesterfield, to see the Tornado and other trains.
Ernie and his brother Stanley, six, spent hours driving up and down the track, shovelling coal into the firebox, and pulling the whistle while wearing the train driver's hat. Ernie was then taken on a tour of some of the other trains before jumping aboard a high-speed train for a tour around the cab and power compartment. The brothers were able to press the horn and start the engine.
Ernie's mum, Lisa, said: "I asked Ernie if he felt special on his trip and he said 'No, I just felt like an ordinary train driver'. I think that says it all.
"The best part for me was seeing Ernie well enough to really enjoy his wish. It was also magical to see the boys, and their dad, enjoying themselves."