A SCHOOLBOY was left grinning ear to ear – after Hollywood star Sir Patrick Stewart phoned him up to ask a favour.
Progeria sufferer Harry Crowther couldn’t believe it when the X-Men movie hero called to say he needed a hand switching on Mirfield’s Christmas lights this year.
The Mirfield-born actor is starring in a Broadway play until January 2011 and will be spending Christmas in New York.
He turned to 11-year-old Harry – as a fellow ambassador of Mirfield – to ask if he would step in on his behalf when the town is lit-up on November 27.
Harry’s mum Sharron Crowther said: “I sat with Harry throughout the phone call and he was just grinning from ear to ear.
“We had no idea he was going to ring.
“His older brother answered the phone one night and his face just dropped. He mouthed ‘Oh my God, it’s Sir Patrick Stewart for Harry.’
“Harry spent about five minutes on the phone with him. He said he was doing a play in New York and wouldn’t be able to make it home so could Harry turn on the lights on his behalf.
“It is an honour and Harry is really chuffed to be doing it.
“He told Harry he was an inspiration and was looking forward to meeting him when he comes over in the spring.
“Harry said he spoke very posh. It was very exciting, as he liked Patrick Stewart as Xavier in the X-Men films.
“But he just takes it all in his stride.”
Harry is the only sufferer in the world of a rare genetic form of Atypical Progeria Syndrome – meaning his body is ageing five times faster than normal.
The Castle Hall School pupil has already been diagnosed with arthritis in his fingers, toes, knees, elbows and wrists.
He takes painkillers four times a day to relieve him from the aches and pains a pensioner may suffer and tires quickly.
His skin has also started to thin as the ageing process takes hold and he bruises easily, leaving him unable to take part in contact sports.
At school, special leg and back supports help make his day more comfortable.
But Harry refuses to let his condition get him down, making the most of every opportunity that comes his way, from rubbing shoulder with celebrities to appearing on national television shows including ITV’s This Morning.
Sharron added: “Harry is doing really well at the moment and has settled into his new school brilliantly.
“He gets tired as high school is a longer day, but he just paces himself. He hasn’t been taking part in games, but the school and the kids have been fantastic.”
The family is now awaiting the results of Harry’s latest bone scan to determine how fast the illness is progressing.