An eight-year-old boy from Hailsham had his wish to go on holiday to pick a lemon from a tree granted by Starlight Children’s Foundation, a charity for children with serious and terminal illnesses.
Alex Allen was born with dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a type of heart disease. He recently underwent a heart transplant, which required several months in hospital. Throughout his illness and treatment, Alex has always been very brave despite feeling very poorly.
Other than Dr Who, Alex’s great love in life is lemons. When Alex learnt that lemons are not grown in the UK, he decided that his Starlight wish would be to go on holiday with his family to a hot place where lemons are grown so that he could have the chance to pick a real lemon from a tree and eat it.
Julien Pursglove, who was running the Virgin London Marathon 2013 to raise funds for Starlight, heard about Alex’s wish and said he would like to help. Julien, who lives in Heathfield, said that he would like to raise funds for Alex’s wish by running the marathon. As a product technologist for a major retailer, he also said he might be able to help Starlight arrange Alex’s dream to pick a lemon from a tree.
Julien put Starlight in touch with a lemon supplier in Spain. The company said that they would be delighted to help make Alex’s wish come true and Starlight began to organise a wonderful trip for Alex and his family to Alicante, which is known for its lemon trees.
In order that the family could make the most of the sunny Spanish weather, Starlight arranged for them to stay in a villa with a pool. Before his transplant, Alex was very limited in the amount of physical exercise that he could do and it was such fun for him to splash around in the pool with his sister Polly, aged 14, and his parents Mark and Sally.
During their holiday, Alex and his family were invited to visit the farm of Frutas Romu. Here, Alex was able to pick real lemons off trees and to hear about the ways they are grown and then packed and stored before being exported. After a lunch, the family was then taken to Association of Lemons Exporters AILIMPO, where Alex was given some lemons souvenirs as a memento of his trip. At the end of the day, Alex told Antonio Rodriguez, who was showing the family round with his wife Cati and son Alejandro, that it had been “the best day of his life”.