A young boy with facial scars stands in front of a wooden fence, smiling. He wears a blue top.

Charlie’s story: Making his parents proud

Kimberley writes about her eight-year-old son Charlie, who has raised thousands for Changing Faces and was awarded a young heroes medal.

On 30 September 2015, Charlie was involved in a serious car accident with my mother. As a result of the accident Charlie sustained significant facial injuries. He had broken cheek bones, a broken nose and he lost a lot of skin from his nose and forehead. The specialists said it was one of the most severe cases they had seen.

Charlie underwent emergency surgery where they used a skin graft from his thigh for his nose. But because some of the skin was missing from his forehead, they couldn’t stitch them, which now means he’s been left with some wide scars on his head.

We are, and will always, be proud of him but watching him run around the course that day and crossing the finish line was a moment we will never forget.

As he grows he will require reconstructive surgery to his nose and his other scars can be revised. After the accident, at first, when the scars were bright, Charlie got lots of stares from strangers. Some even asked him directly what had happened to his face. This was upsetting for him and for us as a family.

He has cried many tears because of his appearance, which as his mother has broken my heart. Now, his scars are less noticeable and the reactions from others are less frequent. Except when he meets new people. Sometimes he’ll tell them what happened, and sometimes he just says, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

A couple of months after the accident Charlie and I were at the supermarket and Charlie started walking backwards. When I asked what he was doing he said he was walking backwards so people wouldn’t stare at his face. There was also a time when we were followed around a shop by some older kids just so they could get a look at Charlie’s face.

There have been numerous occasions when grown adults have asked him directly what happened to his face. As we were leaving a shop a lady asked Charlie what had happened to his nose. Charlie got upset and shied away. I explained that he had been in a car accident but I felt so angry.

Life at school is great for Charlie. There has only ever been one incident at school but that was addressed and rectified immediately. The school and teachers have been very supportive. They have also done some work with the pupils on Face Equality Day to raise awareness and we are very grateful for this.

Charlie is a loveable character and considering what he has been through, he is coping well. He took part in the Mini Great North Run in September, to raise money for Changing Faces and other people with a visible difference. In total he raised a staggering £3,845! My local CrossFit gym held a charity fundraiser which raised £800 and my husband’s football team held a charity night which raised £340.


Charlie received a young heroes award for his fundraising at Durham Police headquarters. Officer Cudden, on the left, was at the scene of the crash.

Charlie is very active and thrives to do his best and make us proud. On the day of the run, Charlie was very nervous. I could have run with him but he insisted on completing the course on his own. We are, and will always, be proud of him but watching him run around the course that day and crossing the finish line was a moment we will never forget. Charlie felt amazing afterwards. He was beaming! And if you were to ask him yourself, he would say he is very proud of himself for raising lots of money to help people like him.

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