One of Walsall Manor Hospital’s special guests has helped make Christmas come early for a long-term patient and football fanatic, leaving him admitting: “This has made my year!”
Aston Villa supporter Jude Aston, 17, who has cerebral palsy and chronic regional pain syndrome, enjoyed some festive cheer after receiving a video message from young Villa striker Cameron Archer, who recently turned on the Christmas lights at Walsall Manor Hospital.
Jude, from Penn, Wolverhampton, has been a patient in Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital for 133 days and will be spending Christmas in hospital.
Wolves defender Marcal also posted a video message, and the Molineux club also sent some signed goodies – a signed FIFA 2022 DVD and a FIFA drinks bottle.
The messages were even more pertinent as Jude is a budding football reporter with his own YouTube channel – Jude’s Journey, which is also the handle he uses for his social media.
Jude has appeared on Sky Sports TV and has interviewed stars such as Manchester City and England’s former Villa superstar Jack Grealish, current and past Villa managers Steven Gerrard and Steve Bruce respectively, Wolves player Adama Traore, former Molineux manager Mick McCarthy and ex-stars Dave Edwards and Michael Kightly, plus world champion boxer Tony Bellew.
In the video, Cameron, 20, who scored a hat-trick in the Carabao Cup against Barrow earlier this season, said: “Hi Jude, Cameron Archer from Aston Villa here. I know you’ve had a tough year, but I just want to let you know – never give up on your dreams, have a merry Christmas.”
Wolves defender Marcal says: “I know you’re a massive football fan, so here’s something from Wolves that you will enjoy, and have a merry Christmas.”
Here is the video starring Cameron and Marcal.
Jude was over the moon to receive his gifts, which were kept secret until staff arrived to show him. “Thank you so much – it was a shock and a surprise!” he said. “I didn’t expect it. It’s made my Christmas and my whole year. It’s been a tough few months for me so it’s nice to end it on a positive.
“Thanks too to Cameron and Marcal. Cameron is a great up and coming striker and it’s great to see him and Marcal take the time out to do this for me. They might be rivals on the pitch, but not off it.”
Jude’s journey into the media world began about four years ago when he started reporting on matches his school football team Highfields were involved in for Highfields TV, the school’s own channel.
From there, his uncle, Jim Bertram, posted on social media about Jude’s passion to be a football reporter and asking for the chance for him to interview sports personalities. He was inundated with replies, with Villa one of the first to come forward.
“It’s been a whirlwind few years interviewing some great personalities,” said Jude. “Unfortunately, because of my condition it’s stopped over the last year, but hopefully I can get back to it soon.”
So as he is born and bred in Wolverhampton, what’s the Villa connection? “My dad Dave’s family are Wolves fans and my mum Emma’s family are from Birmingham and are Villa fans, and, when it came to point where I needed to choose a club, as my surname is Aston, I decided to support Villa,” added Jude.
Jude was admitted to hospital on August 12 after his right leg reacted to surgery in January 2020. His leg has gone into ‘defence mode’ whereby any slight touch sparks excruciating pain.
“My pain system doesn’t work,” explained Jude, who can stand but is bed-ridden in a side room in Ward A21 most of the time and has regular physio to help him walk again. “It’s my body’s way of protecting itself and there’s no direct way it can be managed. It’s very unpredictable.”
Jude has been a patient at the Bath Centre for Pain Services (BCPS), a nationally commissioned specialist centre providing pain rehabilitation for people with chronic pain of all ages for a year, and admits it’s a long road to a full recovery.
“I’m having psychology meetings regularly and it’s working but it’s a very slow process and sometimes doesn’t go to plan. Hopefully it will continue to improve,” he added.
Jude is waiting for the family home to be converted to assisted living accommodation so he can live downstairs with full wheelchair access, which is expected to be complete in summer 2022.