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Accolade for brave family.

Byline: By Becky Stubbing

A brave eight-year-old and his father ( who are preparing to go under the surgeon's knife together ( have won a national accolade.

Nathan Mullen, of Langley Terrace, Jarrow, South Tyneside, is due to have a kidney transplant on Thursday at Newcastle's RVI, with an organ donated by his father Vincent.

Now his family ( including mother Caroline and three siblings ( have been named Family of the Year in a national competition after their story touched the hearts of the public and judges.

Nathan, the youngest child of four to electrician Vincent, 31, and Caroline, 37, was born with Eagle Barrett Syndrome, a rare disease affecting just one in 40,000, which leaves sufferers with a weak abdominal muscles and major kidney problems. He was also diagnosed with extreme hypermobility which left the little boy forced to spend most of his time in a wheelchair.

His parents, desperate for him to lead a normal life, took tests in the hope that one of them would be able to donate a kidney. Results showed that Vincent was the perfect match and the brave father and son will be going under the knife this Thursday.

After being narrowed down from hundreds of entries and following a public vote, the decision came from the judges in the Goodfella's Family of the Year Award, which included TV and radio presenter Vanessa Feltz.

"It has been a very difficult choice picking an overall winner from all the families who entered, but the Mullen family are truly deserving winners. The amazing strength they have shown through adversity is an inspiration to us all," Vanessa said.

The judges were astounded by the "unique spirit" the family have shown, working together as a unit and even raising money for several charities including the Kidney Patients Association.

The family have won a year's supply of pizza and a pounds 2,500 holiday. "It is very special to us to receive this award" said Caroline. "When I heard the news, I couldn't believe it and was jumping up and down. The whole family is absolutely thrilled and we're all very excited about meeting Vanessa. We've never won anything like this before."

The family, who had to cope with losing a daughter and sister Bethany at just two months, try and remain upbeat and realise just how precious life is. Nathan often jokes about what his dad is doing for him and says he won't punch him too hard when he and his dad are play-fighting.

Caroline said his attitude has kept the whole family strong and hopeful for the future.

"It's very sad to see all the heartache going on around the world and I'm sure there are so many people that are worse off than us, so we are very honoured to have won the award," she added.

The family was one of 24 hopefuls shortlisted on goodfellas- pizzas.com/family where a public vote decided who should win.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 17, 2007
Words:491
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