While most of us were tucking into turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas Day, Alex France was making do with milkshakes.
The 11-year-old, who lives in Base Green, had to forgo the traditional festive feast after being diagnosed just weeks earlier with the inflammatory bowel condition Crohn’s disease.
He didn’t let it ruin his Christmas, though. Rather than feeling sorry for himself, he began fundraising for Sheffield Children's Hospital, where he is being treated.
He collected a whopping £500, which he presented to The Children’s Hospital Charity on Tuesday before his latest appointment.
Alex was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease shortly after his birthday, having suffered from severe stomach pain for weeks.
He was placed on a special diet for two months, consisting of seven special milkshakes a day, to give his badly inflamed digestive system a ‘rest’.
He will be able to return to a normal diet later this month, but his condition will continue to be monitored.
Alex said: “It’s been quite hard sticking to the diet, especially over Christmas, but I knew I had to do it, and I have been feeling better.
“Christmas Day was the hardest. I missed the Yorkshire puddings and stuffings but it was just sitting round the table with everyone eating and chatting which I missed the most.
“I’m glad I was able to raise so much for the hospital, where the staff have been great. Hopefully the money will help other children and maybe even help to find a cure one day.”
Alex spent Christmas with his extended family but left just before dinner to eat with his mum Angela Tunnard and dad Dale France, who both drank diet shakes in a show of solidarity.
Although his diet was mostly restricted to the milkshakes, he was allowed a small bag of Haribo sweets and a glass of lemonade as a treat, and he and his parents plan to have a belated Christmas dinner together later this month.
Alex’s mum said: “It’s been tough for him but he’s taken it in his stride. We had a chat and decided it would be nice if something good came out of it, which is why we set up the fundraising page.
“It gave him an extra incentive to push through with the diet, and it’s great that he’s raised so much.”
You can still donate at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/alexsjourney.