The brave 10-year-old who smiles through the pain after surviving fire horror


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BRAVE Jack McCulloch acts like a real-life superhero – but it’s amazing he’s alive at all.

The 10-year-old became a human fireball when a spark from a garden bonfire set his school uniform alight.

He suffered burns to 21 per cent of his body and has endured hours of painful reconstructive surgery since.

He’s been through operations on his legs, arms, chest and back to help heal a body that was disfigured by the freak accident. But his extraordinary courage helped him fight back to fitness against all the odds.

That’s why he’s been rewarded with a nomination in the Our Little Hero category of the Daily Record Our Heroes Awards.

His mum June says he’s taught the family a thing or two with his remarkable fighting spirit.

June, 51, said: “Jack is an inspiration. He has overcome so much, physically and mentally, but he’s coped with everything that has been thrown at him – and more.

“He didn’t speak for four days after he was burned. The first thing he said was, ‘Mum, am I going to die?'”

Today, Jack has to wear a special vest, gloves and shorts 24 hours a day to protect the burns and skin grafts, which still cause him agonising pain – but his first thoughts are always for someone else.

After going back to school, he signed up as a peer mediator. Now, if classmates are being bullied, they turn to him for advice.

And out of school, Jack, from Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow, devotes some of his spare time to raising cash for other burns victims.

But he still has nightmares about that moment when an ordinary Friday evening in September 2009 turned to horror.

He was in the back garden helping his dad Rod, 46, sweep up leaves which were smouldering in a fire when a sudden gust of wind blew a spark onto Jack’s body and he burst into flames.

His dad threw him to the ground and attempted to put out the fire with his hands.

Jack’s mum was upstairs when she heard the screams and dashed to call an ambulance.

She said: “My husband was carrying Jack into the house and the skin was rolling off Jack’s face.

“It was devastating. You could see in his eyes that he knew something terrible had happened to him.

“I was concentrating on getting Jack upstairs to put him in cold water. An ambulance must have been in the area as within two minutes, they were there. They gave him morphine and put cling film on his body.”

Jack was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow while his dad – who had burnt his hands – went to the Royal Infirmary.

It was a busy night at the children’s A&E but doctors reacted quickly to treat Jack’s injuries.

His left arm, back, chest, chin and ear were burned and he had a five- hour skin-graft operation.

Tissue was taken from his thighs and attached to his arm.

June said: “I would have donated my own skin if it could have helped Jack. Instead, I just sat and said a wee prayer.

“The staff at Yorkhill were amazing – from the cleaners to burns specialist nurse Sharon Ramsay, right up to the top doctor, the plastic surgeon.

“People knock the NHS but I can’t fault them. They were brilliant.”

The operation was a success but the top part of Jack’s arm became infected and he had to have another operation to attach skin grafts to his chest and back.

Amazingly, just four weeks later, he was well enough to go home. Friends and family including his sisters Sarah, 29, and Emma, 22, and brothers Jonathan, 25, and Shaun, 13, were there to welcome him.

But Jack’s biggest hug of all was reserved for Rascal – a Jack Russell puppy his dad had bought.

And the pet played an important role in family life during the difficult months to follow as Jack struggled to come to terms with a dramatically different life. June said: “We all had to learn about how difficult life can be for children with burns.

“The hospital staff were surprised how quickly Jack recovered but I wasn’t because I know him.

“He has been through a lot though. He sleeps with Rascal on his bed every night and the dog is a real comfort to him when he has flashbacks.

“He was ecstatic to see that dog and we’ve all been there for him.”

Jack has a special cream applied four times every day. His right leg didn’t heal properly after the skin grafts and he remains in constant pain.

Next up, he faces a painful course of steroid injections on his legs, chin and arm.

But Jack doesn’t complain. And he has already raised s190 for the Scottish Burned Children’s Club – who help youngsters rebuild their lives – by selling badges to classmates at Auchinairn Primary School.

He’s determined to join the Army when he leaves school and has already shown the bravery needed to train as a bomb-disposal expert.

Jack was nominated for the Our Little Hero award by one of his sisters, Sarah McQueen.

She says her remarkable wee brother, who faces the world with a smile on his face no matter what life throws at him, deserves recognition

Sarah said: “Jack makes me smile every time I see him. He has a rigorous routine to deal with but just gets on with it.

“I would like to thank everyone at Yorkhill for all the hard work they put in. They really did a lot for my brother.”


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