BRAVE youngster Joseph Kendrick is enjoying a brand new chapter in his life.
The five-year-old, who is the inspiration behind the Joseph’s Goal charity, has now started at Hope School after his family moved full-time to Wigan.
Even though he’s in his first few weeks at the Winstanley-based establishment, Joe is already showing hugely-positive signs.
Joseph’s Goal was set up by the youngster’s parents, Paul and Emma Kendrick, after he was born with the rare genetic disorder nonketotic hyperglycinemia (NKH).
At the time of his birth, the family was living just outside Leeds and were preparing to move back to Wigan but that was all halted.
“We’re obviously from round here originally – me from Wigan and Emma from Preston – but work took us to Leeds a few years ago,” explained Paul, the Evening Post’s Wigan Athletic correspondent.
“We’d made the decision to come back to Wigan when I got the job back here in 2009, but then virtually that same week we found out Joe was on the way, which put that on the back-burner.
“The plan was always to move back as soon as was possible, but obviously things became complicated when Joe was born and his condition was diagnosed.
“As a result all of Joe’s care was at the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI), and to be honest it probably worked out well in that respect. With it being one of the best hospitals around with the resources to pinpoint disorders like NKH we could start his treatment as quickly as possible.”
Thankfully Joe continued to defy expectations, which inspired Paul and Emma to start the charity in the first place to search for a cure.
As Joe got stronger, the charity picked up pace, and the idea of moving back home became more and more feasible.
Joe had a particularly bad winter last year when he was in hospital for around a month, but as the weather improved into the New Year he got stronger and the family decided to make the move back – and are now settled in their new Highfield home. Paul added: “The charity has always been based in Wigan, backed by the incredible support we’ve had from friends and family and also the Latics and the Warriors through my work.
“We always tried to get back over to every event that was held for us which sometimes meant a lot of travelling, so obviously it will be a lot easier now we are around full-time to co-ordinate things even better.
“It’s just great being around town a lot more, and seeing people wearing their Joseph’s Goal wristbands is an amazing feeling.
“We’ve had several people recognising him and stopping us in the street for a chat, which is obviously fantastic and shows the high level of awareness for the charity.”
That awareness hit an all-time high last year when Joseph was Wigan Athletic’s lucky mascot in the FA Cup final.
Now though, he’s starting school life and the family have nothing but praise for the staff at Hope.
“He’s settled in really well, we couldn’t be happier,” said Paul.
“The staff have been fantastic and made him feel really welcome. We’d heard only positive things about Hope before he started from friends and word of mouth, and it’s been exactly like that.
“We’ve been told Joe’s been smiling virtually every day at school which is a big step forward in his development, and we’ve seen him smiling a lot more in the evenings which we hadn’t really seen before he started at Hope.
“It obviously shows he’s happy and content in his new surroundings and the people around him, which is all we can ask for really.”