Dream trip for poorly youngster

Alex Allen granted wish to pick a lemon in Spain JPSE
Alex Allen granted wish to pick a lemon in Spain JPSE

A poorly youngster was given a trip of a lifetime when a charity granted his wish to pluck a lemon from a tree in Spain.

Eight-year-old Alex Allen, from Hailsham, suffers from dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a type of heart disease.

The condition meant Alex had to have a heart transplant which saw him spend several gruelling months in hospital.

Charity Starlight, which grants once-in-a-lifetime wishes for seriously and terminally ill children, heard about Alex’s love of lemons and granted his wish to go on holiday to Alicante in Spain where he picked a lemon from a tree.

During their holiday, Alex and his family were invited to visit the farm of Frutas Romu where Alex picked lemons off trees and heard about the ways they are grown and then packed and stored before being exported. The family was then taken to Association of Lemons Exporters AILIMPO, where Alex was given some lemon souvenirs as a memento of his trip.

Dad Mark said: “The highlight, without doubt, was meeting Antonio, Cati and Alejandro who drove two and a half hours to meet us in Fortuna and escorted us for the whole day around the region, including a lovely Spanish lunch. It was a perfect holiday, which was planned to perfection by Starlight and made possible by the kindness and generosity of the charity’s supporters.”

The trip was made possible by Julian Pursglove, from Heathfield, who ran the London Marathon this year to raise funds for Starlight. He heard about Alex’s wish and said he wanted to help.

A spokesman for Starlight said: “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.

“Julian 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.”

The charity also helps families with seriously ill children spend quality time together, giving the whole family happy memories to share. The charity arranged for the whole family to stay in a villa with a pool and enjoy the sunny Spanish weather.

Before his transplant, Alex was very limited in the amount of physical exercise he could do and in Spain he got to splash around in the pool with his sister Polly, aged 14, and his parents Mark and Sally.

At the end of the day, Alex told Antonio Rodriguez, who was showing the family around with his wife Cati and son Alejandro, that it had been ‘the best day of his life’.