A BRAVE Leasowe teenager who was given just hours to live has had the honour of opening a Wirral hospital’s newly refurbished main entrance.

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

Born at just 24 weeks, weighing just 1lb and 7oz and no bigger than the palm of an adult hand, the brave tot was given a mere 12 hours to survive.

Yet in January, the Foxfield School pupil celebrated his 13th birthday and last week, was cutting the red ribbon on Arrowe Park Hospital’s new entrance – the very hospital where he was born.

It was that same hospital that helped Joshua on his road to recovery and after seven months in the hospital’s special care baby unit, he was allowed to go home.

Recognising his amazing journey, David Allison, chief executive of Wirral University Teaching Hospital, said there was no better patient to help mark such a proud day in Arrowe Park’s 32-year history.

He said: “Joshua is representative of what our hospitals offer the community they serve – committed, caring and compassionate professionals providing world-class health care.

“This trust has a great deal to be proud of, and despite the very real challenges we know the NHS is facing, it remains as important as ever to have a hospital that showcases to our patients, visitors and staff that we are a caring, competent healthcare organisation providing great clinical outcomes”

Joshua – who was described by mum Erica as a “loyal, loving little boy” when the Globe covered her son’s 13th birthday – 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, Megan, and Amy.

“We were absolutely over the moon that Joshua was asked to open the entrance and we’re all so proud of him,” said mum Erica.

“Joshua was so made up with doing it.

“Thank you so much to Arrowe Park Hospital for just giving us our precious son and saving him.”

Wirral Globe:

Arrowe Park Hospital's newly refurbished main entrance.

Arrowe Park sees thousands of patients, visitors and staff walk through its main entrance day in, day out, resulting in natural wear and tear.

Before this latest refurbishment, the main entrance changed little since the hospital first opened in 1982, with the last remodelling taking place in the late 1990s.

Wirral West MP Esther McVey, who also attended the opening, said: “Having young Joshua here to open the new main entrance is an inspiration. It makes you realise just how skilled and dedicated the nursing teams are at this hospital.

“It’s important we support the first class service Arrowe Park Hospital delivers. Whether it’s caring for premature babies, like Joshua, at the beginning of their life, or when we fall back and rely on the compassionate and caring nursing staff for those patients requiring the best end of life care available to them.”

Once Joshua cut the ribbon to officially open the main entrance, a 30 strong flash mob choir began singing M People’s ‘Proud’.