candisCache

Coronation Street actress Sally Dynevor presented their award during the ceremony at ZSL London Zoo, where The Kings were also named Fundraising Family of the Year. Before the ceremony, the King family spent the morning at the zoo. “The kids also loved stroking the kinkajou then getting close to meerkats at the awards ceremony. Seeing their faces light up is  something we’ll never forget,” says Paul.

The couple set up the charity after Oliver was born in June 2007 with no oesophagus, half a heart and Down’s syndrome. He spent the next 16 months in and out of hospital and had 13 operations, including open-heart surgery at just four months old. Three attempts to repair his oesophagus failed, so he now uses a special device for feeding and drainage. Then, in August 2008 Oliver suffered a massive cardiac arrest and lost his hearing due to lack of oxygen. “They said he wouldn’t make it through the night 14 times,” says Michelle. “It was an incredibly traumatic time and Paul and I spent most of it apart because Oliver was in Leicester Royal Infirmary, 45 miles from our home, and Paul kept working to support us.”

Amelia was born in June 2008 and Imogen in summer 2009, but the girls have their own health concerns. “Amelia is undergoing diagnosis for Asperger’s,” says Michelle. In March 2011, Imogen lost her sight and movement in her limbs after she contracted meningoencephalitis – a viral infection that affects the brain and the surrounding area. “She was in hospital for a month,” says Michelle. “We couldn’t believe we were back with another ill child. Thankfully she’s better now.”

Oliver’s health needs inspired them to set up Little Miracles. “When Oliver was 18 months old, he went to playgroup, but some mums pulled their children away from him,” says Michelle. “We felt so isolated.” So in March 2010, Michelle and one of her friends set up a coffee morning for other parents in their situation. “By June, 30 families were attending.”

Michelle organised more play sessions. “We hired a soft play area, charging £1 per family, but some couldn’t even afford that. I vowed from then that all the sessions would always be free.” The Kings started fundraising. “Tombolas paid for play sessions and a daytrip to Skegness. The parents were so grateful and the kids so happy, it made us want to do more.” In October, Paul took part in the Great Eastern Run and Oliver, then three, did a 4k fun run. “That helped us raise £2,500, which took three coaches of children to Whipsnade Zoo.”

Two years on, Little Miracles now supports 420 families, and since January has been based at a permanent centre. “We have 15 sessions, including British Sign Language and arts and crafts,” explains Michelle. “I run most of them while Paul works. But he’s involved with fundraising, helps on days out and is in charge of curry and bowling nights for the dads, to support them too.” And the family continues raising funds. “Some of these kids won’t have long, so whatever they want, we have to be creative about raising the money.”

It’s the Kings’ self less attitude that impressed our biggest ever panel of celebrity judges, many of whom attended the ceremony to present the awards in person. “Paul had a long chat with Jo Joyner, who had brought her twins. Baroness Newlove spoke of losing her husband,

which was so emotional, and she has invited us to talk about our work in the House of Lords, which is exciting,” says Michelle. “Winning the award was truly wonderful because although we put everything into our charity, we never expect anything back. But this shows that people really appreciate what we are doing.”

So are they looking forward to enjoying their prize holiday in Northern Cyprus? “You have no idea how much!” grins Paul, “Michelle and I have only been abroad once and the children have never been. We’d never be able to afford a holiday ourselves, so we can’t wait!”

Please wait while we process your request.

Do not refresh or close your window at any time.