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January 29, 2003

Bens starring role in a flyer!

From: Oldham Chronicle, UK - 29 Jan 2003


LITTLE Ben Wheldrick is an inspiration to his family.

Despite being left profoundly deaf after he was struck down by meningitis as a baby, 10-year-old Ben has made his stage debut with Oldham Theatre Workshop.

He has been playing Michael Brown in “Forever Fly”, a stage adaptation of “Peter Pan”.

His mother, Amanda, has been moved to tears by his performances.

She said: “I am so proud to have seen him on the stage with a cast of talented children. Watching the show was marvellous.

“He just loves acting. When he was little people always used to say he was born to be on the stage because everything he did was very theatrical.”

When nine months old, Ben contracted meningitis and was rushed to hospital in a critical condition.

Mrs Wheldrick said: “It’s something that no parent should have to live through . . . to have to sit there and watch and hope and be told that the next 48 hours are crucial.”

As a toddler, Ben underwent ground-breaking surgery when he became the youngest person to have a £30,000 microchip ear implant, which is detachable and allows him to hear quite well.

Ben joined the Theatre Workshop a year ago, after appearing in plays at his school, Thomasson Memorial, Bolton. His teacher gave him every encouragement to join.

Mrs Wheldrick, of Cavendish way, Royton, said: “I have nothing but praise for the Theatre Workshop. The people there have been fantastic and allowed him to develop naturally. I am also very proud of the other children, who have accepted Ben and and made him one of them.”

© Oldham Evening Chronicle 2001