WHEN fragile newborn Joshua Welch first entered the world in 2001, it was doubtful he would live.

Born an incredible three-and-a-half months prematurely, and weighing just 1lb and 7oz, the brave tot was given a mere 12 hours to survive.

Yet on Sunday, Joshua’s family and friends looked on as the Foxfield School pupil celebrated his 13th birthday, complete with balloons, banners and lots of cake.

Proud Leasowe mum Erica described the milestone as simply “amazing”.

She said: “He was so overwhelmed when we threw him a big party – he thought he was going to the chippy but we had hired a hall in Wallasey village where all of his family, friends from school and friends from the street were waiting for him.

“It was just amazing. We had balloons up and had a banner made with pictures from when he was really premature right up until now.”

Joshua made his early entrance into the world at Arrowe Park Hospital at just 24 weeks on January 26, 2001.

He was so poorly that doctors gave him just 12 hours to live, prompting his family to organise an almost instant Christening.

But the tot surprised everyone and started to respond to treatment and after seven months in the hospital’s special care baby unit, was allowed to go home.

Joshua - described by his mum as a “loyal, loving little boy” and a massive fan of The Wanted – now suffers with globement development delay, is partially sighted and has recently been diagnosed as being deaf.

Despite this, Joshua and his battling nature have been a constant source of astonishment and inspiration for everyone who knows him, including his three big sisters – Katherine, aged 20, Megan, aged 23, and Amy, aged 24.

Katherine added: “He is an amazing little boy. He is a very special child and we cherish every day we spend with him as he was born so small.”