Triple Transplant Survivor Fulfils Wish to Drive Flying Scotsman Steam Train
13-year-old, Theo, from Adel, Leeds, has had his greatest wish granted to drive the famous Flying Scotsman steam locomotive, thanks to Rays of Sunshine.
In 2006, Theo was diagnosed with acute liver failure and has had a total of three life-saving transplants and many other operations to correct the complications in his liver function. Due to the liver failure, Theo has also suffered from brain damage, which has caused learning difficulties, behavioural problems, epilepsy, and difficulties with his speech.
Despite his condition, Theo is a positive young person who loves to travel and enjoys going on trains, ferries and planes. He has a specific fascination with steam trains, particularly the Flying Scotsman, and has enjoyed learning about it at the National Railway Museum and has always dreamed of driving the locomotive himself.
To make his dream of driving the Flying Scotsman a reality, Rays of Sunshine worked closely with the National Railway Museum and the East Lancashire Railway to organise a special two-day wish full of locomotive fun. Theo’s Nana, Tina, even made him and his little sister Mia train driver outfits that they wore to the wish outing.
On the first day, Theo and his family were picked up from their home by a private car and taken to the Bury Transport Museum, where they saw many vintage and restored vehicles, original artifacts and interactive exhibits that explored the lives and jobs of people in the early 20th Century. The following day, Theo and his family enjoyed lunch together before a limousine arrived to take them to Bolton Street Station where they met the steam locomotive crew and had a private tour of the locomotive to learn about how the fireman and driver work together to drive the steam locomotive.
After learning all about the Flying Scotsman, it was finally time for Theo to drive it himself! With help from the crew, Theo was able to fulfil his wish and drive the Flying Scotsman out towards the locomotive sheds through several signals, backwards through the station and back again onto a new platform. The crew showed Theo what to do and encouraged him all the way. Then Mia had a little turn as the driver while Theo took up duty as the train guard with his whistle at the ready.
Following his wish, Rebecca, Theo’s mum, said:
“Rays of Sunshine really have made Theo’s wish come true. We all had a fabulous time and are so grateful to all the people who were part of this special once-in-a-lifetime experience. Gill worked really hard to make all the arrangements and the staff and volunteers in Bury and on Flying Scotsman were absolutely brilliant, going out of their way to make it special and to help Theo enjoy his wish. Theo has been proudly telling everyone he sees about driving Flying Scotsman with the biggest smile on his face and enjoys reliving his wish by watching the video of himself driving his favourite locomotive!”
Gill Begnor, the Rays of Sunshine volunteer who organised Theo’s wish, added:
“This was one of my favourite wishes to work on! All the volunteers at the East Lancashire Railway were super helpful and friendly. They went out of their way to make this a special day for Theo, taking time to explain everything to him and even presenting him with his own whistle, which he blew to announce the train’s departure. Theo and his family were lovely, and it was great to see his little sister enjoying the day as much as he did. It was a real pleasure to be a part of Theo’s special day.”