One of Alder Hey Children’s Charity’s younger Child Ambassadors, Frankie Bowen, became the first to raise the new Children’s Charity Embassy flag at its inauguration ceremony at Southport Pleasureland on June 1, 2021.
The new building signifies the start of the family attraction’s new support partnership with Alder Hey Children’s Charity, dedicated to supporting the world-class children’s hospital.
Frankie Bowen became a social media sensation when a video of him moonwalking to Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ at his birthday party went viral on social networking site, Twitter. The video was taken just two years after Frankie was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.
Frankie rubbed shoulders with diplomats, politicians, senior council officials and VIPs - and even officiated - at the ceremony, which was followed by an ice-cream and candyfloss reception and an afternoon on the Southport Pleasureland rides for invited guests.
Norman Wallis commented that he wished to build the new embassy for the young ambassadors of Alder Hey Children’s Charity, for every ambassador should have an embassy and it was most appropriate for the region’s favourite family attraction to play host to the new building.
Frankie was a healthy baby born at Whiston Hospital, but at 18 months old his mother, Kathryn, noticed that he had developed a limp. It was dismissed as ‘growing pains’ by their local GP, but his condition became progressively worse. By age three, Frankie was brought to Alder Hey Hospital unable to walk.
Kathryn said: “Frankie woke up one morning and just couldn’t walk. He was really upset as he couldn’t understand what was going on. We took Frankie to Alder Hey to get answers."
She added: “Frankie was also having terrible conjunctivitis and he was becoming more upset as he couldn’t walk, but the nurses and doctors at Alder Hey were amazing and so reassuring.”
Frankie had many scans and tests and he was eventually diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis [JIA] in 2015. JIA affects 12,000 children in UK under the age of 16, with one in 10,000 children being diagnosed each year. The condition is similar to arthritis in adults where inflammation inside the joints can lead to swelling, warmth and reduced movement. Frankie was put on an IV drip and given various forms of medication to help with his conjunctivitis and his JIA.
Kathryn said: “When he was first diagnosed, we couldn’t even have much of a conversation with him because he was so tired, but after just a week or so he was sitting up and pretending he was Spiderman. It was a massive relief because at one point, I didn’t even know if he would be able to walk again.”
Frankie was eventually up, walking and even dancing and is not letting his condition get in the way of life. Kathryn said: “Frankie can’t keep still - he loves to dance; takes acting classes and he’s obsessed with Liverpool FC. He’s been doing jujitsu for months and has managed earn two stripes – it’s brilliant for his joints. Frankie is just so full of energy.”