Day At The Track

Dad's act for deaf & blind boy he's never met

06:40 AM 25 Apr 2019 NZST
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New dad Watson, who lives in a chalet home in Bishop Auckland, features in The Gypsies Next Door
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Gypsy dad’s heartwarming act for deaf and blind little boy he’s never met. Romany gypsy Watson decided to climb Britain's highest mountain to raise money for 10-year-old Sean

With a mobile home and a baby daughter who he takes harness racing, Romany gypsy Watson's life is worlds away from that of non-travellers Sonia and Sean. 

But that won't stop the new dad from helping the parents he's never met and their 10-year-old son, who is deaf and blind and has to be tube-fed due to a rare condition.

Watson is determined to raise money so the courageous little boy, also called Sean, can undergo life-changing treatment abroad after reading a story about the youngster's plight.

And he plans to do so by climbing Britain's highest mountain, breaking down what Watson admits is a 'them and us' situation between travelling and non-travelling communities.

Watson and Sean - who suffers from severe cerebral palsy after being starved of oxygen at birth and is not expected to live past his teens - both feature in the Channel 5 programme The Gypsies Next Door.

 The youngster's dad, also called Sean, and mum Sonia were delighted to meet Watson
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The youngster's dad, also called Sean, and mum Sonia were delighted to meet Watson

From one father to another, it means the world'

The series, which also stars glamour model Danielle Mason and her traveller ex Tony, looks at the occasional conflict between travellers and non-travellers across the UK.

Although professional harness racer Watson has integrated with the settled community through the sport, he's aware that other gypsies in the country have faced issues.

 Watson, seen with his baby daughter, admits it's a 'them and us' situation between travellers and non-travellers
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Watson, seen with his baby daughter, admits it's a 'them and us' situation between travellers and non-travellers
 Little Sean suffers from severe cerebral palsy and is not expected to live past his teens
KNICKERBOCKERGLORY TV 9
Little Sean suffers from severe cerebral palsy and is not expected to live past his teens

"One of the problems is stereotyping," he says.

He explains he decided to climb 1,345m-high Ben Nevis to fundraise for Sean and a sick little girl from Essex after being touched by stories he read about them.

He says: "I'm doing it for two little kids. A little lass is down in Essex, she's got a rare form of cancer, God love her, and she's really bad.

"And there's a little lad over in Newcastle."

Inspired by stories of sick children

The father travels to Sean's home to meet the youngster, who can't walk or talk.

Knocking on the front door of little Sean's Newcastle home, the dad, from Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, reveals his selfless plan to raise money - and the boy's parents are delighted.

 Watson is filmed meeting 10-year-old Sean, who can't walk or talk and has to be tube-fed
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Watson is filmed meeting 10-year-old Sean, who can't walk or talk and has to be tube-fed
 Grateful dad Sean, right, thanks Watson for his fundraising efforts from the 'bottom of his heart'
KNICKERBOCKERGLORY TV 9
Grateful dad Sean, right, thanks Watson for his fundraising efforts from the 'bottom of his heart'

He is filmed hugging the boy's grateful parents, who have previously had little or no contact with gypsies and are overwhelmed by the support of a stranger.

The boy's dad tells Watson: "Thanks very much from the bottom of my heart, from one father to another father, it means the world honestly.

Sonia says: "It's the first time I've ever met a gypsy, it's totally changed my perspective on them. I mean, Watson's just a normal man, he's absolutely lovely."

When the day of the climb finally comes round, Watson, Sean and other supporters battle through tricky, snowy conditions to make it to the top of the mountain.

 Watson successfully climbed to the top of Ben Nevis, raising thousands of pounds in the process
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Watson successfully climbed to the top of Ben Nevis, raising thousands of pounds in the process

A successful climb and a trip to Panama

Sean's stem-cell treatment, which reduces seizures and spasms, costs £20,000 per visit and his parents would like him to have it twice a year.

The mountain hikers successfully raise thousands of pounds for the two children.

Today, Sean's family are preparing to make a 10,000-mile round trip to Panama so he can undergo treatment.

KNICKERBOCKERGLORY TV 9
Watson is seen video-calling a sick little girl in Essex, whom he also raised money for.

 

By Sophie Jane Evans

Reprinted with permission of The Sun

 

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