A courageous teen who suffered life-changing burns in a house fire tragedy has received a prestigious honour.
Joe Bowers, aged 15, survived the blaze at a property in Rotherham in 2001, when he was just a toddler, but his mum died as a result.
The then 18-month-old spent months recovering in hospital and has undergone a staggering 32 operations since, including three in the last year, including facial reconstruction and muscle transplants.
He was nominated for the Youth of Courage award at the national Spirit of Fire ceremony because of his ‘admirable strength and incredible determination.’
Phil Bowers, who with wife Tracy adopted Joe after the fire, said: “I’ve been speaking to the burns unit at Sheffield Children’s Hospital only today because my way of giving something back to them is to play Father Christmas on the wards, and all the nurses said that Joe just takes everything on the chin, absolutely nothing fazes him.
“It is so brave of him to go through so many hours in theatre.”
An anonymous well-wished donated Sheffield resident Joe for the award, and he received it in front of a packed audience of 500 people, including various celebrities, in London last week.
Communities’ Secretary Greg Clark, who hosted a reception at Downing Street for nominees, said he was ‘inspired’ by the awards.
Phil, who became a volunteer for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue after Joe’s ordeal, said the schoolboy had now been invited to visit the Emmerdale TV soap set by one of the actors.
He added: “For Joe to receive the award was fantastic - someone nominated him anonymously which was a surprise in the first place.