Liam’s my inspiration

FAMILY SUPPORT Liam Gawthorpe, his brother Sean and parents. (D523D333)
FAMILY SUPPORT Liam Gawthorpe, his brother Sean and parents. (D523D333)

A teenager who needs a heart and double lung transplant is refusing treatment – and is concentrating on building up his business to leave a legacy for his brothers.

Liam was born with heart and lung conditions, and had to undergo emergency surgery three years ago for a brain abscess.

Sadly his health has taken a turn for the worse and he now needs transplant surgery.

But brave Liam, 18, has decided not to have the operations, and is instead concentrating on building up the business he started, Hecky Pets, to leave a legacy for his younger brothers, Ethan and Sean.

His dad Neil has praised the bravery of his son and says his determination to enjoy life in the face of serious health problems is an inspiration to all who meet him.

Neil said: “We don’t know what time we have left with him. Every day is a bonus to us. Two of the valves in his heart are leaking quite badly - he hasn’t got any oxygenated blood in his heart.

“But he is still wanting to do things, and wanting to prove that no matter what is wrong with you, you can get on with it, and if you’re passionate, you can do it.

“Liam wants to leave a legacy behind for his brothers so they have something they can turn to.”

Following Liam’s surgery he suffered severe memory loss and could only remember what he had learnt from ICT and woodwork lessons at school.

He could not find work, so used his skills to make bird boxes and planters. After three months of success selling them on eBay, he opened a stall on Heckmondwike market, which grew into a pet supplies stall.

The business was so successful, Liam and Neil, who run it together, opened their independent store, Hecky Pets, in Market Street in February. The shop also provides opportunities for people with learning difficulties.

Neil said: “Liam has had more health problems than most people would have in a lifetime. I am passionate and proud as his dad and I draw strength from him.

“Liam does not let his illness stop him, and he used to care for his grandad who had Parkinson’s disease. “He always puts others before himself because that’s the young man he has become, and I am so proud of the way he, his brothers and mum all stick together regardless of what is happening.

“He is an inspiration to everybody that speaks to him. He motivates people just by telling his story. To see him carry on is phenomenal.”