A Sheffield boy who suffers from a rare life-limiting illness was left with a big smile on his face after receiving a surprise invitation to meet the stars of X-Factor.
Timothy Haywood, 13, who suffers from mitochondrial disease, spent a day behind the scenes at the show’s London studio, accompanied by his mum Alison, dad Mark, and siblings Christopher (17), Amelia (3) and Theodore (11 months).
The surprise treat was arranged by The Lily Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting children and families affected by mitochondrial disease.
The family enjoyed VIP access to the X-Factor set during a soundcheck day. They met with judges Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Nicole Scherzinger, host Dermot O’Leary, and hopeful competitors including Kevin Davy White and Rak-Su.
"It was such an incredible day out," said Alison. "We only found out about it two days beforehand, and we didn't tell the kids so it would be a surprise. Of course they were blown away when they found out.
"Timothy is really interested in film production, so he really enjoyed being behind the scenes and seeing how the show is put together. Simon and Louis were really kind and took time out from their work to chat with us and show us around, it felt very personal.
"Amelia is only three and not old enough to understand what a famous person is, so she wasn't shy at all. I think she rather surprised Dermot by jumping on him, but he was a great sport!"
The family was shown around the studios by Simon Cowell, who even took time to record a short video in support of The Lily Foundation.
"I can't thank The Lily Foundation enough for everything they have done for us," said Alison. "It was a really memorable day for Timothy and all the family, I don’t think we’ll ever forget it."
Mitochondrial disease affects one baby born in the UK every day, and can strike any person at any time in their life. For more information, or to donate, please visit www.thelilyfoundation.org.uk