Tribute has been paid to a popular Boston man, a former national Child of Achievement award-winner, following his death at the age of 36.
Stuart and Paula Barton say they have been ‘overwhelmed’ by the messages of support after losing their son Daniel to pneumonia earlier this month.
Daniel had spinal muscular atrophy (SMA); he was diagnosed with the genetic condition, which makes the muscles weaker and causes problems with movement, at 20 months.
However, while his condition meant he could not walk and had to use a wheelchair, he lived a remarkably full – and star-studded life.
His drive to overcome his disability saw him, in 1991, receive a McDonald’s Child of Achievement Award, following a nomination from his grandfather Bill.
The award ceremony was attended by a host of celebrities, including Princess Diana.
Of what he made of the occasion, aged just nine, Stuart said: “He just revelled in it. Dan always appreciated everything you did for him. He thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was a brilliant day.”
Daniel would go on to develop a passion for autograph collecting and in the years that followed would meet countless celebrities from the world of sport, film, TV, and music – from members of his chosen football team Tottenham Hotspur (including Champions League winner Gareth Bale, now of Real Madrid) and late Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher to Game of Thrones’ star Peter Dinklage and chart-topping singer Rihanna.
Stuart paid tribute to Daniel’s ‘optimistic’ outlook on life, describing their time together as ‘a big adventure’.
“He couldn’t see any boundaries for what was out there for him,” he said.
“He coped with his problems, he never complained,” he said. “He achieved so much in his incredible life. He was a big character with a big heart.”
* The Child of Achievement Award was given annually to children up to the age of 16 who ‘by their tasks to help others or by their ability to overcome illness or disability became worthy of the title Child of Achievement’.
Daniel was one of 150 children from all over the UK who packed into London’s Guildhall in 1991 to receive a trophy and certificate from TV personalities such as Andy Crane, Bob Holness, Karl Howman, Matthew Kelly, and Julie Walters.
In a piece in the local press at the time, it was noted there was no year date on Daniel’s trophy, with mum Paula saying: “Daniel is an achiever for life, not just for one year.”