A COURAGEOUS little boy was waved home from a Sheffield hospital by celebrity motorsporting hero James Toseland.
More than 1,000 big-hearted bikers followed the Doncaster-born former World Superbike champion as he led the annual Easter egg run to boost Sheffield Children’s Hospital yesterday.
He then called into wards with his wife, best-selling singer Katie Melua, to give chocolate eggs to young patients, including four-year-old Eric Burton, who was hoping to go home from an orthopaedic ward after reconstructive surgery on his hip and femur.
Brave Eric – who has also had open heart surgery because of complications following a premature birth – even persuaded James to let him ride on the back of his bike one day.
The tot said: “James said I could go on his motorbike.
“The bikers were cool, I saw one dressed as Bananaman and a Batman.
“My favourite was the one James was on.”
Little Eric needed the five-hour operation last week after contracting an MRSA infection in his leg as a baby.
Mum Cathie Babbington, of Bilsthorpe, near Mansfield, said: “He’s only been in since Thursday and is going home now, it is incredible.
“He has been very excited about meeting James – he will talk about this forever.”
The parade of mean machines, trikes and sidecars roared through Sheffield city centre, past the hospital then into Weston Park, with many riders waving flags or sporting bunny ears.
James signed shirts for crowds of fans and also auctioned off a giant Easter egg, donated by Team Roberts in Denaby, for £55.
The 32-year-old, who married Katie in London last year, thanked everyone who took part.
He said: “This is my ninth year of the egg run.
“The first time I went into one patient’s room and was trying to cheer a young girl up, and when I came out her parents were crying because it was the first time they’d seen her smile in three months.
“That’s when it hit home, you can make a difference by bringing a smile to somebody’s face.”
James, who has formed a rock band since retiring from racing, also revealed the group’s debut single would be released this month with a Sheffield gig lined up at the O2 Academy in the city centre on Wednesday, May 29.
The singer and keyboard player said: “We’ve got a summer tour with 11 gigs and are supporting The Darkness.”
Biker Andrew Lewis, aged 62, dressed as a penguin and braved snow in Buxton to attend.
She said: “I left the chicken suit at home and came as a penguin because it was so cold!
“It’s fun, we come every year.
The Easter egg run is organised by the Three Shires Honda Owners Club, with support from South Yorkshire Police.
About £5,000 raised for The Children’s Hospital Charity will boost the Make it Better campaign to transform the hospital into a state-of-the-art facility.