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seven (Not to be confused with any of the Shakespearian
by Les Lea
eighteen and able to leave school to pursue a career
close to her heart. Ever since she was little she’d
always wanted to take care of children and, when an
opportunity came up to take a course in paediatric
nursing she jumped at the chance.
been a volunteer at Saint Clare’s the local hospice and
of course, what also helped was being ten years older
than her brother, so had, over the years, taken care of
him when their mother was otherwise engaged. Ellie was a
young woman full of care, consideration and love, all of
which she displayed to those she was charged to look
after. She loved the work.
Henry had been born ten years after Ellie, same mother
but from a different father.
Her own dad,
Michael Warren, had married his childhood sweetheart
Debra Gold, when, at the age of twenty-five, they could
see no reason not to. He’d got a well-paid job at the
local quarry straight from school and she’d been a top
honours student but wanted to work rather than pursue
further studies. She quickly established herself in the
financial accounts department of a legal firm and made
quite a reputation for herself.
With the birth
of Ellie, decided she’d cope with child and career from
home and set up her own freelance financial
advice/accounts company. Unfortunately, eight years
later an accident at the quarry had left the wonderful
Michael fatally injured and the small family unit almost
They managed the
best they could, the compensation pay-out helping
alleviate the financial worries a little. However,
eighteen months later Daryl Woodhouse met and dated
Debra. He was a funny, slim man, almost the exact
opposite of her first husband, and he brought a
much-needed breath of fresh air into the household.
Alas, he was a freeloader and Debra only realised her
mistake when, as the money run out, so did he. By then
she was three months pregnant but thanks to her daughter
and close-knit family, managed to get over him.
She wasn’t going
to let her resentment of his father cloud the view of
her new son, Henry (named after Michael’s father) and so
put the name Warren on the birth certificate. Although
Ellie and the family knew he was from a different
father, Debra insisted that he be treated as if he was
Michael’s son and he was never to know who his real
Keeping this lie
proved easier than expected because baby Henry was a
little treasure. Everyone, including his older sister,
doted on this smiling bundle of joy and he instantly
slipped into being an important part of the family.
sister were inseparable; he adored Ellie and she was
always there to help and teach him as he grew up.
already having helped out at the children’s hospital and
the attached hospice she knew that paediatric nursing
was not an easy job. Not only was she helping children
from babies to teenagers, she also had the emotional
journey of all that entailed. Babies that needed almost
twenty-four hour care, young boys and girls who from
some accident or disease needed help or supervision, the
job was as much about sensitivity as medical care. Ellie
was determined to get it right from the off and throw
herself into it with gusto… she didn’t want to get
To this end she
decided to enlist the help of Henry.
He was a robust,
noisy, exuberant seven year old, who enjoyed all the
pleasures a second grader could appreciate. However,
when asked by his adored sister if she could practice on
him, he approached this request with some apprehension.
He wasn’t sure
what it entailed but she promised it wouldn’t involve
any ‘medical’ procedure. She said she just didn’t want
to harm kids who were already suffering in one way or
another simply because of not knowing how to do
something quickly, carefully and with a degree of
Henry had always
done as his sister wanted but now, at seven, he felt he
liked his independence and was weary of committing
himself to do anything. Especially as the summer break
was here and he planned to be out and about playing with
his group of school mates.
she would only practice on him when he was home our
before bed and that nothing she did would impose on his
fun. His mother encouraged him to ‘rally round’ and had
a private word with him saying how pleased she’d be if
he helped his sister attain the job she so desperately
He loved his mom
and loved his sister so… how could he refuse?
to her brother just what her job would entail. He wasn’t
aware she would have to look after kids who were nearly
as old as she was and who needed help with even the most
basic of tasks. Even though she’d changed Henry’s nappy
when he was a baby, he was potty trained by his third
birthday, and she really had no idea how to go about
changing someone older. She knew she’d be taught how to
cope with a larger body but there were other
considerations to think about. Most of the paediatric
staff was female but they would be required to attend to
older boys as well as girls, she wanted to get it right.
So, on that
first night of ‘Henry practice’ the bandages and other
medical kit she was going to employ to begin with had
been left in a separate bag at the hospice. Thankfully,
the actual bag she had brought had all the things she
needed for other training purposes. She nappied him.
embarrassed throughout the entire procedure and had been
reluctant to let it happen. However, she’d insisted that
some kids needed help even getting undressed so he
should let her do everything and that included seeing
Not that his
sister hadn’t seen his naked little bum racing around
the house ever since he could crawl but at seven years
old bashfulness was becoming a thing he was aware of.
unwillingness was overcome by a word of encouragement,
and promise of some future wish granted from his mother,
which meant Ellie could get on with the exercise and
Henry would simply comply.
She stripped him
and applied the wipes and creams she’d been told were
needed to keep that particular area free of ‘the
She let out a
schoolgirl giggle when she described it with those words
to her brother.
horrified that such areas should even have ‘nasties’
throughout the procedure what she was doing and why.
awkwardness he realised just what a hard job his sister
was undertaking. The idea that older kids might need
nappies had never occurred to him and, after giving him
a couple of examples of the problems some of her
patients had, Henry was a little less anxious.
“Don’t you use
disposables?” Henry wondered.
“Most of the
time, but some kids are allergic or have different needs
so we have to learn to be able to do everything… and
that my dear, sweet little brother, is why I need to
practice on you.” She smiled as the soft but thick
fabric was pulled up between his legs. “So feel free to
wriggle around a bit.”
Once fitted in
the nappy and plastic pants she asked him to walk around
and give his opinion of fit; tightness, looseness,
Henry looked at
himself in the mirror and burst out in embarrassed
“I look, I look
like a big… a big… “
think of the poor kids who HAVE to wear that all the
Ellie looked at
him in the mirror and patted the padding down a bit.
“Erm, yes, er,
it fits well.”
For a moment
guilt swept through his seven year old body when he
realised some unfortunate kids had no alternative.
After all, no
one else knew or could see him wearing a nappy so why
should it bother him?
He knew his
sister only wanted what was best for her patients and
decided that if he could help, even in just this most
simple of ways, he would. The padding wasn’t hurting him
and Ellie had laid it on pretty thick (just like the
nappy) he would be helping her help them.
around the bedroom for a short while.
“It does feel
strange having all this between my legs… but it’s not
reassuring,” she said relieved.
unfamiliar step Henry could hear the tell-tale rustle of
the plastic. The plain white vinyl cover really not
hiding the fact of what lay beneath.
“This,” he said
rubbing the slippery cover, “doesn’t hide anything…”
supposed to,” Ellie confirmed. “It’s to keep from any
She slipped her
finger between the tight elasticated legs and gently
felt the soft fabric underneath.
“This can get
absolutely soaked so, like when you were a baby, it
keeps the rest of your clothes and bedding dry until
someone can come and change you.”
He looked at her
as if she thought he was stupid.
“I know that.”
She patted his
dick, let me try a different way of folding the fabric
and see how that feels and then…”
After a brief
sigh he let Ellie get on with the second change and
again was positive about a job well done. She explained
that some kids were simply incontinent; whilst others
had medical procedures that meant different techniques
of protection were needed.
Henry looked at
the pile of disposable, fabric nappies, plastic covers
and other assorted items she needed for her job and was
glad he didn’t require any of this stuff on a permanent
thorough as she manoeuvred the dense material under his
bottom, pulled it through his legs and pinned it into
As if on cue,
his mother popped her head around the door to see how
things were going.
you look… lovely.”
had been said in a friendly way, Henry, who was laid out
on the floor, and all but naked, wriggled in
but you do look cute.” She teased.
There was no
doubt about it, seeing her seven year old son wearing
nothing but a nappy had made her go all gooey inside.
She was shocked at just how much the feeling of maternal
pride and love swamped her body just from seeing him
look so sweet and vulnerable.
She swallowed a
gulp of emotion and smiled.
making a hot drink… do you two want one as well?”
“But not in a
baby’s bottle.” Henry added.
sweetheart… you’d look…” She couldn’t help herself
especially when she realised she wasn’t just teasing
just as Ellie pulled him to his feet.
“For the last
time tonight… how does that feel?”
He stood up and
walked around and gave a little jump. The nappy was
soft, thick and fleecy and it did feel slightly
different to the others.
“A bit loose… I
think with the plastic pants it would be alright.”
He gave another
little jump as if to prove his point.
They didn’t fall
down so he jumped again but the nappy stayed steadfastly
Not for the
first time a smile appeared on Ellie’s face.
you do look very cute in those.”
“Look, if you’re
gonna make fun I’m…”
you’re correct. Thank you for all your help. Let me take
it off for you… unless you want to keep it on?”
She chuckled to
herself at the idea, whilst Henry simply pulled at the
pins to dispose of the thing as quickly as possible.
downstairs a cup of hot chocolate awaited the two
‘workers’. Their mother was a little disappointed to see
Henry now wearing pyjamas but without the thick
protection underneath. She thought it wise not to
comment but couldn’t help but once again become swamped
in the nostalgia of her youngest so dressed… he’d looked
Up until she
actually saw her son wearing a nappy, and the loving way
Ellie attended to him, she had never thought of him as
anything but a growing boy. There was a sudden pang of
realisation that took her by surprise, and that was, her
little boy was growing up but she wasn’t really ready
for such a change.
was little she could do about it, Henry was growing and
a lively little chap he’d become as well. He was much
liked at school, had loads of friends and, thankfully,
was still a loving son at home. Some of the other kids
on the estate were terrors so she was grateful Henry
wasn’t one of those.
It was strange
though, every time she looked across at him sitting in
his jammies watching TV, she wished he was cuddled up
with her in the thick nappy she’d so recently seen him
shake the thought.
In her head and
under her breath she cursed her stupid brain for
thinking in such a way. In fact, the ‘under her breath’
bit wasn’t quite true because Ellie asked her what she
“Oh, er, nothing
love,” she said thinking quickly. “Just wondering out
loud about something your aunty said.”
She smiled to
diffuse the situation and both her children went back to
watching their programme.
Over the next
few days, when she got home from work, Ellie would
engage Henry in further procedures. She went through a
whole gamut of bandaging techniques, looking for veins
for injections (although Henry never had to suffer the
actual prick). He also had to pretend he was infirm,
couldn’t walk, had motor neurone disease and a host of
other problems that kept him immobile and so Ellie had
to lift and make comfortable.
enjoyed playing these parts and got into them with a
vulgar enthusiasm that took Ellie by surprise.
He thought it
was funny to act the way he did and at times he was
being thoughtlessly silly so she suggested that perhaps
he’d like to visit Saint Clare’s and meet some of the
sounded like it was a pleasant invite but in fact Ellie
wanted Henry to appreciate what he had and to see for
himself what other kids his age had to put up with.
After a bit of badgering Henry reluctantly agreed to
visit that weekend. His enthusiasm for ‘having fun’,
whilst Ellie had to manoeuvre his immobile body around,
waned and he took his job more seriously.
would keep popping in to see if she could help or offer
refreshments… but the real reason was the hope of
finding her son nicely bound in more protection. She’d
become slightly obsessed but didn’t dare suggest to
Ellie to repeat the nappying process.
wearing had only been for only a couple of hours over
two nights so, once Ellie had been satisfied she’d got
it right, with relief from her guinea pig, he was
quickly back to normal underwear.
pleased that her brother had agreed to visit the
children’s hospital and hospice. Although at first not
keen, he’d wanted to join his friends on a weekend
camping expedition, the bad weather had made the
decision for him. The kids from the children’s wing of
the hospital were encouraged to be friends with those in
the hospice. The interaction was deemed a progressive
way for those with illnesses of all kinds to establish
understanding and compassion.
He met ten year
old Kevin, who was confined to a wheelchair and nine
year old Liam whose internal organs were in such a
dreadful state it was a wonder he was still alive. Both
these boys were restricted to wearing nappies 24/7 but
coped admirably with what made their bodies the way they
paediatric nurse hoped her brother would understand,
first - how lucky he was and second - how others managed
their situations. Henry wasn’t stupid but as a
boisterous seven year old he took a great deal for
granted. Although his sister didn’t want to bring him
down, she hoped he’d learn to be compassionate about
other people, especially those dealing with infirmity
and some facing a very insecure future. She also hoped
that he’d make friends with some of the kids and become
a regular visitor because some of the children only ever
saw those in hospital and had little or no contact with
tentative start Henry got on well with Kevin playing a
video game together and eventually just generally
chatting as they read Superhero comics. Eventually, in
conversation, the inevitable came up.
sort of disappeared once I was in this.” Kevin indicated
his wheelchair. “Annnnd… the fact I wear protection all
the time doesn’t exactly add to my appeal.”
It was an innocent enough question.
he shrugged as if nothing more needed saying.
“Erm, is that,
or the nappies?”
suppose.” Henry wasn’t sure he should even be asking
such personal questions but decided as Kevin had brought
the subject up it was okay.
listening nearby; there was no denying the thick
protection bulging out his grey cotton jogging pants.
Kevin sighed. “If you have no choice you just get on
with it and… your sister is lovely when she has to
Kevin and Liam
nappies as well?”
“No, no, no… she
just practiced on me. She didn’t want to get it wrong
when she had to change you, erm, I mean, anyone.”
“Well there’s a
difference between wearing them for a few minutes and
having to wear them all the time, especially if you
don’t know you’ve filled them.”
cheekily but there was also a guilty look on his face as
if this happened far too often for his liking.
“There are a
good few of us that have to wear protection all the
time,” Kevin added. “It can be embarrassing if you have
company but, you’ve just to get over that.”
“I bet,” replied
went on like this for some time, Henry asking questions
and Liam and Kevin adding the answers and in the end… a
Kevin was in
need of a change. A certain smell had suddenly added to
the atmosphere and Ellie came over to sort out the
suggested to Henry,” Kevin said as Ellie smiled and
asked if he was ready to be taken to the changing area.
“He should wear a nappy for twenty-four hours so he can
see what it’s like… but I bet he daren’t.”
Ellie raised her
eyebrows at her suddenly cornered brother.
“Well that’s a
challenge isn’t it?”
A few other kids
had gathered around now, not all wearing padding but a
good number of them that was for sure.
She suddenly had
“Well, I know
Henry isn’t afraid of anything… he’s brave and
courageous… and I’m sure something that simple isn’t
going to faze him.”
intently at Henry to see his reaction.
All who heard
the challenge now stared Henry’s way who found himself
both embarrassed and unable to speak.
“I don’t blame
him,” Kevin offered. “It’s not nice having to wander
around wearing a sopping nappy…”
He smiled as if
to say the challenge wasn’t real and he didn’t really
expect his new friend to comply.
Liam was deciding on whether to make
chicken noises when Henry blurted out.
“No. I’ll do
challenged me for a reason.”
It was true.
Kevin knew that most of his friends thought of him as a
big baby because of his nappy. They thought he was
stupid because of the wheelchair and either talked
loudly at him or ignored him and spoke to his carer… he
hated the fact that most people were okay with that
assessment. He wasn’t and at times it angered him but
now realised he was being a bit unfair with a new
his arm, “I was only kidding Henry.”
He looked over
at his sister for support.
“You know you
don’t have to,” Ellie said, “but I’d be very proud if
thought a little more about what he’d just agreed to do,
Kevin wheeled himself to the changing area, whilst Liam
and others just looked on in admiration and
congratulated their new friend on his pluckiness.
“How bad can it
be?” Henry half-heartedly muttered to himself.
seven year-old hadn’t thought it through. Although he
had his sister’s support he had no idea how or when this
challenge would take place. He wished he hadn’t agreed
to it and was hoping against hope that something would
come along to prevent it happening. Of course, he didn’t
want to be seen as backing down but, and this was most
important, he didn’t want to wear a nappy for
twenty-four hours either.
had an idea, which she discussed with her mum who was
very excited about such a suggestion.
Saturday was the Saint Clare’s Hospital and Hospice
Funday, an annual event to raise much needed funds
to provide specialist services and equipment for the
institution. It had grown over the years from a simple
tombola and raffle event, to become one of the main
calendar events of the town. It not only took over the
grounds of the hospice but also two nearby fields that
were transformed into a huge funfair, performance area,
market stalls, displays and a host of other exciting
presentations… including the ever popular a line-up of
patron was Brendan Lee Cooper, a local young actor who
had been a child TV star and who was now one of the
leading teenagers in the country’s top soap opera. He
was set to open the Funday, accompanied by the Scout’s
marching band, whilst the town’s mayor would lead a
Part of the
Funday was that helpers went around collecting money in
a bucket from those who attended. The buckets were
sealed with a plastic cover but with a slot where money
could be slipped in. Over the years, everything from
fifty pound notes to foreign currency had been collected
but all of it had been useful and gone on to buy some
wonderful equipment for the hospice. This time there
were to be four ‘collectors’; a scout, a guide, a local
bodybuilder who was dressed as Captain America and the
local football teams mascot Kenny the Kangaroo. To this
list, and after she’d explained the circumstances to the
organisers, was added ‘Baby’ helper… Henry.
Debra was quite
thrilled at the entire idea and asked Ellie if she’d do
a sort of preview of exactly what Henry would be wearing
on the day. She said she didn’t want him to feel silly
but Ellie reminded her that he was to wear exactly the
same as what Kevin wore. However, Kevin’s day time nappy
was a padded disposable, which wasn’t as thick as his
night time one which was a very generous, though fluffy,
So, come Friday
evening and Ellie explained to Henry that they needed a
run through because he was obviously nervous and the
idea was to put those nerves to bed before he went to
bed. She smiled at her not very clever explanation.
Hesitantly, he agreed to go along with her suggestion
after first getting a short lecture on obligations from
his proud mother.
At eight o’clock
on Friday night Ellie was tucking the thick fabric nappy
into the nursery print plastic pants. Henry was
horrified that he looked so much like a toddler he was
on the verge of rebellion. He waddled downstairs to the
kitchen, rustling as he went, to complain to his mother
about just how thick his nappy was and how childish he
“Look mum… look
what she’s asking me to wear… it’s, it’s… it’s stupid
can you tell her…”
“Well I think
you look fine and wearing what all boys should to go to
It wasn’t the
voice of his mother but Mrs Parkhurst, the old lady who
lived across the street and three doors down.
shocked that they had a visitor he wasn’t warned about
and as he now stood in a nappy in the middle of the
kitchen it was difficult to back out without appearing
rude, which his mother would never allow.
turned and smiled.
“Well I think
you look perfect darling. You’re doing a wonderful thing
for your friends and helping to raise money for the
help the strange maternal feeling overwhelm her as she
watched her little boy turning red because of her guest.
However, there was no getting away from it, he did look
like a toddler but pretended it didn’t matter.
“Say hello to
Mrs Parkhurst dear… there’s a good boy.”
“Erm, yes, ummm,
Hello Mrs Parkhurst.”
Henry wanted to
turn and run but with both adults smiling and nodding in
some kind of mutual appreciation he found he could
“As you know
Debra,” Mrs Parkhurst started, “all my boys slept in
nappies until they were ten.”
This was news to
had made no secret of the fact that her three boys, who
because of their circumstances all had to share a bed
whilst growing up, had been made to wear protection
until they were ten years old.
“Of course,” she
continued, “when we moved to this house, and we had more
room, we could change that… although,” she reminisced,
“Norman stayed in them until he was thirteen.”
the story because at some time or other, nearly all the
kids on the estate had been babysat by the woman. In
fact, it’s fair to say that some parents, having got fed
up with their child’s attitude, would organise her to
babysit them even if they really had no plans. It was a
well-known fact that she had very particular ideas about
protection at bed time, and bed times.
Under tens were
nappied and in bed by 7pm, over tens were nappied and in
bed by 8pm. She was of the opinion, and one she often
shared with any other parent on the street, that kids
who were of school age should have regular early
bedtimes. She believed that a growing body needed sleep
but the nappies were just a sensible precaution. Also,
when they stayed over at her house she didn’t want any
unfortunate accidents in her spare bed where the kids
she babysat slept.
Mums and dads
were often quite jubilant that she was a woman few, if
any, kids dared defy. She was insistent that her rules
were obeyed and any child left in her care, which was a
job she relished now her own kids were all grown up, had
no choice or say in the matter. Even those who’d been
potty trained were not exempt from those rules and, on
more occasions than she could remember, had been proved
correct with her charges often waking up in a soaked
nappy. Whether this was just a lucky happenstance or the
children had been too afraid to go to the toilet was a
matter of debate.
her own children up to respect and obey the rules of the
house. More polite and friendly boys would have been
hard to find so she must have been doing something
right. However, other kids grew up scared of the woman,
whilst some adults loved the fact they had someone who
could bring a young terror to heel simply by babysitting
them for one night. Just the threat of her babysitting
had kids begging their parents not to send them to her.
Discipline was achieved by proxy.
“Yes, Norman was
slow to stop his bedwetting but, as I always say, a
soaked nappy is better than a soaked bed.”
“Oh, Hello Mrs
Parkhurst, how are you?”
Thank-you. Your mum’s been telling me about the new
nursing job. She’s very proud of you.”
Ellie smiled at
the praise but also had a respectful, if nervous,
disposition around the old woman.
When Ellie was
nine and she and her baby brother were babysat by her.
Mrs Parkhurst had insisted that the resourceful and able
young girl was nappied before bed. She protested, like
so many before her, but found no amount of argument and
insistence that she was well potty-trained had any
effect. Nappies and an early bedtime were greeted the
following day by yawns and wet padding. An embarrassed
Ellie had proved Mrs Parkhurst’s defence options to be
correct. Ellie was devastated.
With nowhere to
go, and now the subject of the discussion, a beet-red
Henry stood anxiously as the three ladies continued
their debate about the way he was dressed.
“Of course, if
he was mine he’d be in bed by now,” Mrs Parkhurst was
back on her favourite subject.
“Yes, well, er,
it’s the weekend and, er, on school nights he’s… erm….”
His mother was getting quite defensive but wasn’t sure
what to say. She actually agreed with many of the old
how brilliant Henry had been when visiting Saint Clare’s
and how, out of sheer compassion, had agreed to be
dressed as he was to show the other kids that wearing a
nappy was nothing to be ashamed of.
ran her hand over the slippery childish plastic cover.
“Well, I have to
hand it to you Eleanor; you have done a very good job
getting your brother ready for bed.”
wearing something similar tomorrow at the Funday… this
was just a trial run... I, er... um...”
uniform…” Henry chimed in, the first words he’d spoken
for some time - the scrutiny of the women making it
unnecessary for him to speak.
actually explained exactly what his ‘uniform’ would be
like as it was still being made but she didn’t want to
spoil the ‘surprise’ or give him an excuse to back out
so kept quiet.
nodded and smiled.
fifteen minutes of inspection and chat Mrs Parkhurst
said her goodbyes but with the promise that she’d see
them all at the Funday.
meantime made them all a warm drink and ushered her two
children into the living room to watch TV.
“I’ll just go
Henry was about
to disappear back to his room.
“Just a minute
young man.” His mother said in mock severity. “You heard
what Mrs Parkhurst said, 7 o’clock bedtime for under
tens or…” she said with a wink, “you can stay up with
the grown-ups as long as you stay protected.”
thought she was joking he didn’t want to test his
theory. So, reluctantly he waddled into the living room
and plonked himself down in front of the TV. His
favourite comedy programme was just about to start so he
huddled into a corner of the sofa and drank his hot
She tried not to
show it but Debra was beside herself with happiness. Her
baby boy looked so special and wonderful sat in his
thick padding and shiny plastic pants with the adorable
printed baby teddy bears all over them. Unceremoniously
she sat down next to him and gently eased him over so he
was lying against her. She smiled and stroked his hair
as he settled into the crook of her arm… this was
something they hadn’t done for quite a few months but
Debra was in her element.
whether through her gentle caresses of his plastic pants
and soothing rub of his naked tummy, Henry soon fell
asleep. She was enjoying the situation and in no rush to
wake him up and send him off to bed. Ellie and her mum
“He really has
been a wonderful brother and example to the other kids
at the hospice. I can’t get over that a boy his age to
have such empathy. He’s well liked, has joined in with
everything, he’s been a real little hero…”
looked down at her sleeping son and sighed.
“He’ll be all
grown-up soon and I won’t be able to do this… I just
wish I could keep him like this for a little while
chest expanded as he gulped in a huge breath, wriggling
slightly to get more comfortable, his plastic pants
sliding along his mother’s arm before settling once more
and falling into a deep sleep.
“Everyone has to
grow up mum… he’s a credit to you.”
Debra led her sleepy son up to his room. He seemed
exhausted and didn’t even try to pull his pyjamas over
the thick protection but simply crawled into bed as he
was. His mother lovingly patted his padded bottom before
pulling a blanket over and left her son to all the sweet
dreams he could summon before the big day.
week had begun cloudy and cool, the last few days had
seen a return of the summer sun the weather forecasters
had been promising. Henry woke up to find himself
sweating as the early morning sun streamed in through
his open window.
He stretched and
yawned and wondered why he’d woken up naked, then
remembered the previous night and knew he wasn’t quite
naked after all. He reached down and felt the slippery
cover and the thick bulk between his legs and wondered
how he’d managed to sleep with all that pinned to him.
However, he’d had no trouble sleeping so threw back the
cover and looked at his padding.
He was feeling
very hot down there, the plastic pants keeping all the
heat in as he sweated even more once the sunlight had
begun to do its work. He slipped his hand down the front
of the nappy and it felt moist, he was sure he hadn’t
wet during the night but couldn’t be certain. Furtively,
he dragged down the plastic cover and unpinned the
fabric. Cautiously he looked to see if there was any
tell-tale signs of him having peed the bed, thankfully
there was nothing and his nappy showed no staining that
might have indicated anything else. It was simply
A gentle knock
on his bedroom door meant that Ellie wanted to come in.
That reminded him of the fact that today he was
‘volunteering’ at the Funday and she’d come to see he
was fit and well and hadn’t suddenly developed some rare
and incapacitating disease. Even if he had he was sure
his mother wouldn’t let him back down, she was so proud
of her little boy having such a community spirit.
opened the door and saw the nappy and plastic pants in a
pile on the floor. She smiled as her brother hopped
around desperately trying to quickly get into a pair of
underpants to hide his nakedness, which was silly really
as she’d seen him naked most of his life.
“Did you sleep
alright sweetie?” She enquired.
“Mmmm, I think
so, no probs.” He replied having succeeded in getting
his briefs in place but now distractedly looking for a
pair of shorts.
“Great, er, um,
do you want me to put your nappy on here at home or wait
until we get to the hospice?”
Standing in just
colourful cartoon briefs and holding a pair of shorts he
said you’d wear the same as Kevin for twenty four
“Yes, yes, I
know,” he seemed a bit annoyed at being reminded. “I
suppose it’s best to change here. What time are we
expected at the hospice?”
will be a briefing and I think you should go and chat to
your friends there first… so they can see for themselves
how committed you are to the challenge…”
“Okay, okay, um,
does the fact that I spent the night wearing a nappy go
towards the twenty-four hour…? He ventured in hope.
“I don’t think
so sweetie but you can always tell Kevin you got to wear
a nappy last night and see if he agrees.”
for a while.
“He’ll think I
wanted to wear one…”
smiled at the memory of both her and their mother
admiring just how cute he looked.
It was in
Ellie’s DNA. She’d always had a soft spot for babies and
children, that’s why she wanted to become a paediatric
nurse. But even before that, with her little baby
brother, she always loved getting him ready for the day
ahead; cleaning him up, feeding his breakfast, dressing
him in nice toddler outfits, he was such a happy, loving
child and eager to please. That was Henry’s major
attribute – he was a loving and caring... and a handsome
boy who everyone liked.
After a little
thought he suggested that perhaps just before they have
to set off it would be best if the disposable was fitted
then. He also wondered what exactly his ‘uniform’ would
to a slight misjudgement, both mum and her daughter
taking longer than anticipated with their ‘make-up’
regime, Ellie didn’t get time to pre-nappy Henry before
they made it to the hospice so had to do it there.
At Saint Clare’s
Henry was telling Kevin and the other interested boys
(which seemed to include them all) about what his sister
had arranged and that was – from the time he is made
ready for the Funday he would be wearing exactly the
same as what Kevin would wear at any given time…
“...except without the wheelchair”. Liam giggled at
disposable by day and an extra thick padded nappy at
night and the challenge would last a full twenty-four
hours. He didn’t mention that he’d already spent the
night dressed in a similar way, he didn’t want them to
think it was something he enjoyed doing. However, now
that he had spent so much time dressed that way, he was
a little less worried about the challenge.
stopped saying that Henry didn’t have to accept the
challenge, instead he was in admiration that his new
seven year old chum would go to such lengths… but wasn’t
sure why? Anyway, the Funday had given them all an
excuse to dress up if they wanted; fancy dress had been
offered should the urge be taken by any of the hospice’s
patients. The younger ones wanted face painting, whilst
some of the older ones just wanted to meet new people
and didn’t think fancy dress would do their reputation
any good whatsoever.
had to go and get ready for his collecting duties and
said that no doubt he’d see them around as he went about
trying to get money from strangers. What he didn’t know
was that his sister and the committee had come up with a
special outfit that would prove embarrassing, but highly
The Funday was
just minutes from the opening ceremony when Henry
arrived at the volunteer’s tent. The scout, the guide,
Captain America and the mascot were already and armed
with their buckets. Ellie rushed her brother into a
slightly cornered off part of the tent, it was to be
used as a First Aid post so needed a bit of privacy, and
helped him off with his clothes.
She asked him to
lay out on the rickety bed that was there so she could
fit the nappy but added lotion and powder she thought
would be advisable as he was to wear a nappy all day and
in such hot weather. Because he was a little late and
everyone was waiting for him - a photographer was
expecting to take a group shot for the local paper -
Henry didn’t object as she taped him snugly and expertly
into a thick disposable. She then pulled up a pair of
plastic pants, not unlike the nursery print ones he’d
worn the night before, but which he thought were just
His objection to
them was stopped as an urgent call that the photographer
was getting anxious and Henry was holding up
proceedings. Henry, although doubtful about what he had
to wear wondered where his uniform was. Ellie slipped a
small revealing baby blue t-shirt over his head and
quickly led him by the hand out to join the rest of the
group. He had no time to realise the t-shirt read:
‘Pweeeze giv’ in
swirly pink childish writing, whilst on the back it said
‘tank U’ in an equally toddlerish manner. The t-shirt
hardly reached the top of the plastic pants, which in
turn were very crinkly as he waddled out of the tent.
A bucket was
thrust into his hands and the photographer gathered the
collectors around the famous patron and a couple of kids
in wheelchairs, who Henry didn’t recognise, for what he
said would be the main picture for the local paper.
Henry tried to
ask Ellie where the rest of his ‘uniform’ was but all he
got a shrug of her shoulder as if to say “That’s it.”
She was busy chaperoning a group of toddlers who wanted
to go to the children’s play area.
He didn’t get
time to complain as they were all rushed to the stage
where soap-star, and kids favourite, Brendan Lee Cooper
officially opened the event. All the collectors were on
stage, with Henry feeling embarrassed and exposed in
what little he was wearing, which was compounded when
the soap-star signalled him out as the cutest collector
he’d ever seen and encouraged the crowd to give
As the Funday
began Henry had no way out. He wasn’t to know how it
would all pan out or his part in its success.
The kids from
the hospice saw the way Henry was dressed and laughed.
He hadn’t needed to go to such extremes but there was no
doubt about it, he was really proving a point. They
didn’t know that Henry had had no say in what he wore
and had been duped into wearing only this rather babyish
outfit. Although Kevin and all the guys from the hospice
knew that quite a number of them wore nappies, they were
never expected, or made, to parade around the wards in
nothing else. Each patient was treated with respect, no
matter how old they were. It was funny to see Henry
wearing nothing but a nappy but, they all agreed, he did
look the part.
It was a
wonderful day to hold such an event. Over the past few
days the weather had been getting warmer and by the time
the Funday got underway, it was as if summer had finally
arrived. A perfectly blue sky, a gentle warm breeze and
the promise of some excellent entertainment, had brought
the crowds out in the hundreds… probably even thousands.
wandered the grounds, cheerfully stopping people and
rattling their buckets, pretty soon these were being
filled up with all manner of charitable donations. Henry
could hardly go a couple of yards without being stopped
and a photo request made, it seemed everyone wanted a
picture with him. His bucket was filled up first and he
went to the organiser’s tent to get it emptied.
The seven year
old was given another bucket and encouraged to do his
best but, with the hot day and constant attention, Henry
was fading fast. They gave him a large refreshing soda,
which he downed straight away, but then gave him a
baby’s bottle full of juice, which they said would add
to his appeal. He wasn’t keen on the idea but realised
that he’d been quite thirsty most of the time so to have
his own supply wasn’t such a bad idea.
He bumped into
his mother who was there with a clutch of women from a
support group she organised. She proudly introduced her
boy and told them how keen he’d been to get involved
with the hospice’s work and how wonderful it was that
he’d helped out his sister. The women were obviously
impressed (as his mother hoped) and each found Henry in
a nappy to be the cutest of cute (again something his
mother hoped but didn’t say anything), they dug deep and
slipped several large denomination notes into his
collecting bucket. Praise was coming his way in
bucket-loads but he had little chance to enjoy it before
someone else grabbed his attention.
More photos and
another contribution-filled bucket followed.
After a couple
of hours the large soda made its presence felt and he
really did need to pee but, despite the presence of his
disposable, preferred to use a proper toilet. There were
many blocks of Portaloos scattered around the site but
the young lad didn’t fancy using any of them. They had a
very strange atmosphere; smelling of plastic and urine,
whilst the seat and surroundings looked like a heavy
disinfecting would make the unit a much better place. He
probably wasn’t alone in making such a decision but at
least he knew of an alternative. Finding his way back to
the hospice he went to the only toilet that was not
being used, the disabled toilet, and eased himself out
of his plastic pants.
He was hot,
tired and bursting so once he had manoeuvred his
disposable down he sat down and relaxed to completely
empty his bladder. Unfortunately, his little willy was
facing out and not down so when he began to pee the warm
golden stream didn’t hit the pot, it shot under the seat
rim and pooled very nicely into the back of his
disposable. He only discovered what had happened when he
pulled everything up.
The feelings of
shame, disgust and annoyance weren’t helped by the
sudden banging on the door of someone desperate to use
the facilities. As he wasn’t handicapped he now felt
guilty that he was stopping someone needier than himself
and had to act fast.
didn’t want to, he had no alternative than to fasten the
sodden thing in place, pull up his plastic pants and
hope they’d hide what had happened, then try to find his
sister to get changed.
With a guilty
nod to the distressed looking girl in an electric
wheelchair he escaped without having to explain himself
but the soggy back of his disposable was hard to ignore.
No sooner was he
back in circulation than he was being grabbed and
cajoled into various group photo opportunities, whilst
once again his bucket was slowly filling up.
mass had expanded so he was now walking with a slightly
more pronounced waddle. The crowd just loved him,
patting his plastic padded bottom with familiarity and
using baby talk as if he really was just a toddler...
and this was just the first few hours of his
self-imposed twenty-four hour nappy confinement.
padding and plastic pants, together with the nonstop
sunshine, was making things difficult for the little
volunteer but eventually, after a further hour, he found
his sister and tried to explain what had happened.
believe he had an accident, just not the accident he was
claiming. He also complained that the plastic pants were
making him too hot. She got around that problem by
simply tightly pinning him into a thick fabric nappy and
sending him on his way because a queue of other wet
toddlers had turned up needing to be changed.
embarrassed by wearing merely a nappy, Henry had to
admit that without the plastic pants he didn’t feel as
clammy... also he was not followed around by a
continuous crinkle. The fact that Ellie had fastened it
so tightly also meant that it wasn’t in danger of
falling down any time soon. He also appreciated a dry
nappy, the soggy one had clung to everything and had
been quite uncomfortable but this new soft and fleecy
nappy gave him a renewed confidence.
Before long a
third and fourth bucket had been quickly filled with
Henry had been
popular and, as the organisers were keen to point out,
he’d raised the most out of all the collectors.
As the event
drew to a close Henry was struggling with his final
heavy bucket, what he hadn’t noticed was the fact that
his baby’s bottle full of juice had leaked and the front
of his nappy was covered in very orangey hue. When he
finally returned to the tent with the last, heavy
contribution everyone was congratulating each other on
such a splendid day and, the organisers were in no doubt
that it would be a record fund-raising event.
Henry met Kevin
and a few of the other kids for a chat and a catch up
because ‘the collector’ had been so busy, he’d hardly
been able to stop and speak to anyone for any length of
time. Although he kept spotting his friends from time to
time, there were so many attendees that they sort of got
lost in the crowds.
they’d had a great time watching bands perform, going on
some rides, whilst Kevin had particularly enjoyed
inspecting the display of vintage cars. They all
appeared to have had a great time and sympathised with
Henry who had hardly got to experience any of the
Anyway, the boys
were congratulating their friend on a job well done and
were even proud of his soaked nappy. Henry tried to tell
them it was spilled juice but again, although they
nodded in agreement, they all thought he’d really just
peed himself like they did. No one was having a go at
him because it’s just what happens when you have to wear
a nappy 24/7.
friend in need
By the time
the event ended and the family returned home, they were
all pretty exhausted. Henry had been cheered by all the
kids at the hospice, Debra had been congratulated on
having such wonderful, thoughtful children and Ellie had
been a huge success with the toddler group. The seven
year old was even too tired to change out of his
‘collector’s uniform’ and was driven home just as he
was. The ‘Pweeeze giv’ t-shirt looking a
bit worse for wear, whilst the bulging nappy was in a
sorry, saggy state... but he was simply past caring.
The entire day
had been exciting, busy and energy-sapping so all Henry
wanted to do when he got in was rest. Ellie suggested he
take a nice relaxing bath, then she’d put him in his
night time fleecy nappy so he was ready for bed when he
wanted to go. He was past thinking and let Ellie do what
he’d agreed with Kevin he should wear for the rest of
So, after a
lovely soothing, foamy bath, Henry had the appropriate
lotion and powder spread all about him. The new thick,
well-padded night time downy nappy Ellie fitted snuggly
around his waist was indeed something huge and
cumbersome, whilst the addition of a pair of frosted
vinyl pants noisily crinkled as they were pulled up his
thighs. She said that it was exactly what Kevin wore
every night when he went to bed so, as per the
challenge; her duly encased brother was unable to
complain about the awkwardness of it all.
ungainly and Henry wondered if this was what all the
nappy-wearing kids in the hospice and children’s wing
felt like every night. Despite this he nodded to Ellie
when she suggested he should come down to spend some
time watching TV, relaxing and having a nice ‘slurpy’
For a moment he
lay out on his bed and thought about the day. He’d got
Brendan Lee Cooper’s autograph, with a personal message,
and had made friends with just about everybody he’d
met... it had been a fantastic, if hectic, day. Even Mrs
Parkhurst, who he’d seen briefly, commented on what a
good job he was doing, but of course repeated to anyone
within earshot her usual refrain that any child under
ten should always wear a nappy. She insisted that an
excited child couldn’t be trusted to not wet their pants
so it was simply a sensible precaution. Despite that,
and his babyish outfit, it had been exactly what it was
supposed to be... a brilliant FUNDAY for the visitors,
and, although hard work for him, was glad to have been
part of it.
Alas, the cool
strawberry milkshake lovingly made by his proud mother
and standing enticingly on the coffee table downstairs
stayed undrunk because a shattered, well-padded and cosy
little chap fell asleep on top of his bed.
Later, when his
mother popped her head around the door she couldn’t help
but think what an adorable sight her son made. He’d not
even got round to slipping on a t-shirt so he lay naked
but for his thick protection, his room still quite warm
from the day’s heat. She stood for over fifteen minutes
just watching her little boy sleep as his stomach gently
expanded and fell with each softly taken breath.
Though Henry had
acted nothing like a baby, it was the way he was dressed
which filled her full of overwhelming emotions. He
wasn’t a delicate boy, he was always coming home with
cuts and scrapes, and he’d shown just how determined a
seven year old could be by his recent action. However,
looking at him swaddled in a huge nappy and enormous
plastic pants cut through that boyish bravado and all
Debra saw was her sweet baby boy once more.
took one of his old soft cuddly toys off the dresser and
gently laid it in his arms. Automatically, his hands
seemed to sense its presence hugging it close. Debra was
quite overcome, it was like Henry was two again and all
those feelings of maternal love and protection for an
infant came flooding back. She just wanted to pick him
up and hug him to her chest so he’d sleep in her arms.
The urge was strong but she fought it back.
The day had been
strange for her as well. Every time she seemed to look
up her son, dressed in a nappy and looking to the entire
world like a big toddler, was being photographed.
Everywhere he went people wanted him to join in their
selfies. At times she was both jealous and frightened
for her boy because he looked so vulnerable, yet had
launched himself into the challenge with a steely
determination like a boy twice his age.
reached over and pulled a blanket over him, he wriggled
and crinkled in sleepy contentment; that was her cue to
kiss him goodnight and leave him to his dreams.
Henry slept like
a log. His mother came in at 8am Sunday morning and the
little fellow was still hard on. The ear on his soft toy
was soaked where he’d spent the night sucking on it like
he used to do when a baby. She gently roused him and
automatically slipped her hand down the front of his
plastic pants. He was too tired to notice but
surprisingly his mum found him saturated as he stretched
and yawned his way into consciousness.
For some reason
a smile appeared on her face. Why she should be happy
that her seven year old son should be soaked she
couldn’t justify. However, there was no way to pretend
otherwise, it did please her.
sweetie,” she grinned. “You must have been worn out...
you’ve slept for over twelve hours.”
His bleary eyes
eventually focused and he nodded back to his mum.
“Is it time to
“Only if you
want to... you did mention that you’d help out at the
hospice this morning and I’m sure you need to catch up
with Kevin and the clan.”
“Mmmm, I s’pose
so,” he stretched more and then detected the crinkle of
his plastic pants.
At the same time
he became aware of something else. Debra didn’t want him
to be embarrassed about wetting his nappy so cheerfully
brought it up.
“Seems my little
hero was too shattered to make it to the toilet...” she
Henry turned red
“No need to feel
embarrassed sweetie, you were dog-tired after all you
did yesterday so a little accident is nothing to be
This was awful.
How did she know he was wet? Henry was on the verge of
worry, it’s not that important... and besides, you were
well protected so no harm done... it’s an accident.”
mother was being positive and encouraging, Henry was
none too happy. He knew some of the kids at the hospice
wet themselves but couldn’t work out why he had. He was
sure his mother wouldn’t like the fact that her seven
year old had wet his nappy as if it was normal.
his mind went to something Kevin had said about waking
up wet, The feeling of being changed into something
fresh, clean and dry made up for the morning’s damp
The stiffness in
his body eased as he let himself relax.
let’s have breakfast before I get you out of those,” his
mother said pointing to the bulk. “After, have a shower
and then I’ll take you over to see your friends.”
sat around in a nappy several times now, this was the
first time the bulk had been added to with his pee and
it felt strange. It didn’t feel the same as the day
before when he’d accidentally peed in his disposable. He
wasn’t sure if the difference was down to his knowledge
that he’d actually peed in his nappy and had known
nothing about it, or that he’d peed in his nappy and his
mother appeared fine by it.
Just sitting in
such a thick wet piece of material in the first place
was a peculiar sensation but now it had expanded his
waddle was far more pronounced, in fact, the entire
thing was odd. However, and this was another thing that
shocked him, he wasn’t fazed by it. Perhaps, after all
the positive things Kevin, Liam and the gang had said
about having to wear a nappy was beginning to sink in
that it was something you just got used to.
and as per instructions from Ellie, Debra changed her
son into his daytime disposable. If truth be told, she’d
actually been a little envious of her daughter changing
Henry so took her time (and great delight) in getting
him ready. Henry, although a little shy of his mum being
so thorough, knew he’d be hopeless if he’d had to do it
himself. He comforted himself with the fact that this
would be the last time as by noon his twenty-four hour
challenge would be up. His mother, on the other hand,
wished this wasn’t the last time she’d get to do this.
Much to his
initial embarrassment, she reminisced throughout the
procedure about how she used to change him (kissing his
tummy and making him giggle), when he was a baby.
However, even when she finally pulled everything
together through his legs and taped him securely in
place he still found himself amused at some of the
things she said. He was chuckling away at her silly
impression of Mrs Parkhurst saying all children should
be in nappies until they were “...ten, no... twenty,
no... thirty years old”.
done a great job - the disposable was nice and tight and
had chosen a pair of plain blue plastic pants instead of
the nursery print ones.
Dressed in his
blue and white polo shirt, his pale blue shorts and blue
sneakers he looked like he was destined for the beach
more than a visit to see his friends at the hospital.
The bulk was barely showing under his shorts, the firm
grip of the plastic pants adding a secure feeling, and
he felt good about himself. He wondered if Kevin and the
others ever felt like this or did they just put up with
it because they had to?
patted his padded bottom as he got into the rear seat of
her car and really wished she had more time with him
like that but of course said nothing.
As the car drove
off the phone in the hallway was ringing. It was Ellie
trying to tell her mother not to bring Henry to Saint
once at the hospital a different atmosphere pervaded
than the previous Funday.
afternoon, whilst enjoying himself with his mates at the
Funday, Liam took a turn for the worse. One minute he
was laughing, the next he was struggling for breath and
sadly, despite the doctor’s efforts, they couldn’t
revive him. His friend finally gave up the fight just as
Henry fell asleep at home from his exhausting day.
The seven year
old didn’t know about death and even though Ellie had
explained the purpose of the hospice side of the
hospital, it came as a shock. When he walked into the
ward he found a sad bunch of kids, some still in tears,
mourning their friend’s passing. Henry didn’t know what
to do or say but found Kevin and automatically went and
The release from
Kevin was instant and audible as he poured out his grief
whilst his new friend embraced him. Ellie was about to
intervene but, with arms wrapped around each other, both
boys emptied their sorrowful hearts.
Tears were part
of the grieving and healing process but for now the boys
could only think of the loss of their friend. They
unashamedly found what they needed in their mutual
support. Despite his lifelong affliction Liam had been
positive, fun and great company, although everyone knew
what was coming, the suddenness, and at such a joyous
occasion, had stunned them all.
Ellie had been
surprised at just how compassionate her little brother
had become... and in such a short space of time. Henry
was proving to be a surprisingly perceptive seven year
Outside in the
hospital grounds and surrounding fields the clean-up
operation continued. The stage had to be dismantled, so
did all the stalls and rides, rubbish cleared and a
lorry was going round the site picking up the Portaloos
and loading them on the back. It was this last activity
that got Kevin and Henry out of their funk. As the crane
device hooked up one of the big blue plastic toilets and
lifted it into the air Kevin nodded to Henry and said he
hoped no one was still using it.
There was a
giggle of relief followed by a full belly laugh as the
boys broke the sombre mood. Liam wasn’t forgotten but
life went on for the rest of the hospice’s patients and
the comment went a long way to restoring a little life
back into proceedings.
Ellie was doing
the rounds and asked Kevin if he needed a change, which
he answered with a shy nod. She looked over at Henry who
seemed to suddenly realise he was also wet. He hadn’t
known that his emotions had let loose his bladder and
he’d unwittingly filled the front of his nappy.
There was also
an air of pee which he had detected from some of the
nappy wearers at the hospice which Liam and others had
said “...was an inevitable outcome of incontinence”.
What Henry didn’t realise was that air of pee was now
coming from him. Some of the patients wore bags to
collect their urine but most preferred their comforting
thick protection; it was a choice some struggled with.
was the second time he’d wet himself without knowing it
(he didn’t count his Funday experience as that was
simply an accident) and was thinking frantically for an
“Erm, um, Ellie,
I think I need a change too.” He said quietly, desperate
to come up with a reason.
He didn’t need
one. His sister understood they’d both been under
immense emotional strain and that was plenty enough
explanation for her.
come with me and Kevin and I’ll change you after him.”
realised something else.
“Henry, I know
your challenge is just about over but, I’m sorry to say,
I haven’t brought any underpants for you to change
into... I’ve only got...”
that it was okay to be changed into a nappy. For the
time being at least he didn’t feel the need to alter
anything that reminded him of his friend, in fact, all
Kevin had eased
himself out of his wheelchair and on to the counter top
to be changed. Ellie once offered to lift him but he
said it was one of the few acts of independence he had,
so no matter how difficult, he’d always try and do it
himself. Once laid out Ellie undid his pants, eased off
his plastic cover and pulled the tabs apart.
(it seemed she called everyone sweetie), you’re pretty
well soaked so let’s get you into a booster as well as a
disposable... is that okay with you?”
as his soaked disposable landed with a sodden splat in
to the ‘used’ bucket. His nurse was quick to cover him
up with wipes and cleaned the area before smoothing in a
fair amount of lotion and topping it off with a liberal
sprinkling of powder.
nappy was fastened in place and his white, shiny vinyl
pants were shuffled up his legs. Soon he was back in his
wheelchair and out to meet Henry who was patiently
awaiting his turn.
Kevin and Henry
fist-bumped as they swapped places.
already organised a disposable and quickly got to work
sorting out her brother. Even so, she was just as
thorough as she’d been with Kevin although Henry’s nappy
wasn’t quite as thick. However, she noticed that some of
the leg elastic on his blue plastic pants had started to
crack and replaced the ones he had with a pair of soft
hardly go with my blue shorts...” He said with arms
“Yes I’m sorry
but those,” she said pointing to the blue ones he’d only
recently been wearing, “will cut into your thigh and may
mention it but they had been pinching at his thighs a
little bit so was pleased to get an alternative.
“Don’t you have
any white ones?”
“Sorry Henry but
they’ve all gone. We have pink and nursery print... oh,
and these heavy white rubber ones.”
She held up a
voluminous pair of rigid rubber pants.
at having to wear something so large and wondered who at
the hospice they were for.
“Okay, okay pink
it will have to be.” He said reluctantly.
“Well, these are
mostly white with just a few cartoon animals on.” She
held up the nursery print.
“Oh, I don’t
s’pose it matters,” Henry sighed in resignation. “I
s’pose they’re going to be hidden anyway.”
As she was
holding the nursery print pants at the time it was those
that got fed up his legs to cover the disposable.
with interest at how the boys handled the death of their
friend. The hospice of course had seen its fair share of
young deaths, but it had been a new experience for
Henry. He’d shared in the ward’s grief like he’d shared
in their nappy regime and hadn’t expected to be treated
any differently from the others.
After lunch, and
as the summer weather still held, the boys went outside
to watch the dismantling of the Funday equipment.
Kevin found some
prizes that hadn’t been claimed (or simply left) in a
plastic bag by a rubbish bin. He became the owner of a
very sad looking plastic clown, a brown pottery dog, a
cheap looking water pistol, a large unopened Toblerone
and a half drunk bottle of Coke.
managed to make up a story regarding the clown and the
dog and were giggling like maniacs before too long -
they decided to give the bottle of Coke a miss but
enjoyed the triangles of Swiss chocolate. A few of the
other boys and girls came to join them and the mood
changed to a slightly better, chocolatey atmosphere.
They went off to find a tap to fill the water pistol.
At one point
Kevin said about Liam.
“That’s what the
hospice is all about... you know... making the last few
days or weeks or however long you have left... better. I
think he was happy... well I hope so.”
nodded and put an arm around Kevin’s shoulder who, after
a few seconds, slipped his hand down to his friends
padded bum and said he bet he’d never get used to
underpants again... they both laughed.
Henry got home and it was time for bed he didn’t remove
the padding; he just slipped under the cover and
snuggled down wearing only his protection. He would wear
his briefs tomorrow but for now, in memory of Liam and
his well-padded jogging pants, he would stay as he was.
The sun was
up early on Monday morning and so was their next door
neighbour’s youngest, Carmen. Like Henry she was seven
and one of his best friends. They played together, went
to school together, and rode bikes together, except
recently she hadn’t seen as much of him as usual.
However, today she’d been excited to see a lot more of
her friend because in the local paper, which had just
been delivered, and on the front page no less, was a
colour photograph of her buddy.
At the breakfast
table her family had read the article and smiled at the
photograph of Henry wearing his ‘collector’s uniform’
and the by-line that accompanied it. The heading
promised a full report on the record-breaking Funday
inside on pages 4 and 5, the large image on the front of
the paper was just a teaser.
What had made
the family smile was the image of the nappy-clad seven
year old, which showed his nappy with orange stains down
the front and him straining to lift the heavy
coin-filled bucket. To all intents and purposes, it
looked like he was straining in his sagging nappy to
fill that rather than the bucket.
seven year old Henry Warren helping out at the St
Clare’s fund-raising Funday – a bucket full of change
before a nappy change.
It was a
throwaway gag heading but one that caught the
imagination of the paper’s readers.
the incessant knocking on her front door wondering what
the excitement was all about. She was surprised to see
Carmen waving a newspaper and enthusiastically pushing
it at her.
Before she had
chance to take in what was happening the little girl
animatedly announced that Henry was famous.
through to the kitchen.
“See, see, see
he’s famous, he’s on the front page... mum says he must
She jabbered on
as Debra, looking stunned, saw the photograph, read the
by-line and burst out laughing.
“Oh my. Oh my-oh
At the same
moment Ellie arrived in the kitchen, surprised to see
her neighbour at such an early hour looking bright and
excited next to her mother.
you’re up early... are you going somewhere special
The little girl
just continued to giggle whilst Debra passed the
offending article over for her daughter to consider.
A smile spread
across her face which she had trouble keeping in check.
“Oh, I think we
know someone who’s not going to be happy.”
She looked at
her mum then turned her attention to the still gleefully
“Happy in a
nappy, Happy in a nappy...” her little voice began to
like,” Ellie said as an aside to her mother.
“I’m sure... but
doesn’t he look so damn cute?”
“We’re going to
have to put a positive spin on this...”
“Put a spin on
Standing in the
doorway a sleepy Henry wanted to know what was going on
with all the door banging and laughter.
He took in his
friend but had completely forgotten what he was still
“Happy in a
nappy. Happy in a nappy.” She sang and giggled and
pointed at Henry’s sleeping attire.
flushed. It was all a bit saggy, even though he was
still dry and although he’d been seen around the Funday
wearing a nappy, for some reason it felt strange that he
should be wearing one around his neighbour away from the
He felt guilty
He was about to
turn and disappear back to his bedroom when Ellie said
she had something to show him.
added that they were so very proud of him but, it
appeared he’d made quite an impression on the local
“What do you
mean?” Henry questioned.
“Well, erm, um,
it appears that the reporter... you know... the guys
from the local paper? Well, it would... erm...”
She handed him
the cover photograph.
He couldn’t take
in that it was a fantastic image, the colour wonderful
and the focus superb, all he noticed was that from the
expression on his face he looked like he was just about
to mess himself.
cried. “What... if... why... er, ummmm, NO!”
Carmen added with a sweet smile. “Mummy says you look
like my baby brother...” She thought for a second,
“’cept he’s not on the front of the paper... wearing a
with embarrassment and found himself speechless. He was
making some sounds but actually saying nothing, he
couldn’t believe it.
The phone rang
and his mother answered. It was another neighbour who’d
just picked up her copy of the paper.
looking at it now. Yes it is a good photograph.”
Something else was said. “Well, Henry was volunteering
to help out at the hospice and that was the outfit they
gave him... it was part of a challenge...”
continued out of Henry’s hearing but Ellie had pulled
her dumbfounded brother into her arms and was both
consoling and praising what he’d done the day before.
Henry wasn’t happy. She didn’t realise she was patting
his padded bottom as she spoke and Carmen couldn’t take
her eyes from his thick padding and shiny nursery print
“Henry wears a
nappy. Henry wears a nappy...” This was a tuneful
refrain he didn’t want to hear.
Carmen for bringing the paper but ushered her out the
door before she could come up with any other rhyme or
song to annoy her son.
erupted and Ellie fought to keep her brother from
feeling bad. He, on the other hand, was angry at the
injustice of it all. He didn’t see it as the reporter
saw it; having ‘fun with the Funday’. Complete
with a rather wonderful photograph that, to the reporter
at least, said all that was good about the fund-raising
event, and that was... every one happily getting
involved. As far as Henry was concerned the journalist
had made him out to be a silly, nappy-wetting baby.
The phone never
stopped ringing; family, friends, folk from the hospice
and Henry’s school chums were all eager to comment on
the photograph. The cover star himself hid up in his
room and refused to speak to anyone. The overnight nappy
and plastic pants were irritably thrown into a pile in
the corner as he lay on his bed wearing just a pair of
his favourite underpants and wondering how he was ever
going to live down this total embarrassment.
afternoon the phone rang again. Debra had hardly been
able to get any work done because of the constant
interruptions and had decided that after this call,
she’d unplug it for a few hours so she could get some
I speak to Debra Warren?”
afternoon, this is Thomas Peake, editor of the Echo, I
got your number from Saint Clare’s.”
yes, Mr Peake, thought you might like to know you’ve
made a young boy very unhappy... he’s refusing to come
out of his room, embarrassed about what people will say
after seeing that HUGE photograph on your front page.”
that’s what I wish to speak to you about... it’s had the
most amazing reaction.”
it has here... my son...”
interrupt Mrs Warren but money has been flowing into our
office to go towards Saint Clare’s fund and all, I
repeat ALL, because of that photograph. It seems
to have hit a nerve with the public that we on regional
papers rarely see. He’s made a connection with the
community that in my twenty years as the paper’s editor
I’ve never seen the like of.”
I’m sorry. What did you just say?”
cover image of your son has hit the ‘charity’ button
with hundreds of people. We are being inundated with
cheques, cash donations... most saying it’s because of
your son that they wished to... well... help Saint
Clare’s reach their fund-raising goal.”
They spoke for
over twenty minutes and Debra explained about her
daughter wanting to be a paediatric nurse and Henry
helping her out. About his visit to the hospital and
immediately hitting it off with some of the kids there
and of course... the ‘nappy challenge’.
The editor found
all this fascinating and reckoned there was a further
story there, a human interest story featuring a
fearless, empathetic little seven year old, that might
get even more people to donate.
horses a moment.” Debra tried to slow the conversation
down. “This all sounds very good but I have a shattered
and sullen seven year old who thinks the world is
laughing at him. He may not be too keen on being part of
Mr Peake had
simply assumed that Mrs Warren would be incredibly keen
to have her son involved and hadn’t slotted into the
equation Henry being less than thrilled at the prospect.
There was something else that he had to tell Debra and
that was, piles of nappies, disposable and other
clothing had arrived at the Echo office, addressed to
the ‘Sweet Nappy Boy in need of a change’.
The editor was
convinced he had the makings of a fantastic story and
hoped that Mrs Warren would be able to get Henry to
agree to it... after all, he was only seven, so how hard
could it be to convince him of the good he’d do for his
friends at the hospice.
When Mr Peake
heard from Debra about the sudden death of his friend
Liam he knew he had another angle and suggested that
perhaps, they could make all donations in memory of the
boy. Did she think that Henry would go with such an
Debra wasn’t too
sure but the editor convinced her that the story had
merit and agreed to speak to her son about it.
Thomas Peake, sensing a really good feature that he
hoped would be picked up by one or two of the nationals,
set to work. By late afternoon, he had spoken at the
hospice to the fund-raising committee, Kevin and one or
two of the other kids, as well as having a long chat
Like her mother
she wasn’t sure how Henry would go with it but saw the
truth in the fact it was a great story and one that
could lead to even more contributions to the expansion
work Saint Clare’s was aiming to undertake.
The sooner they
reached the £1million ear-marked for the start of
building work, the sooner more deserving children could
be accommodated at the hospice.
number of hits on the Echo’s online site where loads of
other images of the event were stored only advanced Mr
Peake’s conclusion that there was one hell of a story
waiting to be unleashed on a receptive public.
The tap on his
bedroom door brought a snoozing Henry slowly to his
senses. Debra took in the fact that his discarded nappy
and plastic pants were thrown into the corner but he’d
obviously fallen asleep reading a book and wearing only
his underwear. Even though the window was open, it was
still stuffy and warm in the room.
“How you feeling
stroked her son’s head and lifted the book away from his
After the past
few days of Henry wearing a nappy he looked strange in
just his thin cotton Ninja Turtles briefs, it didn’t
seem he was dressed correctly but didn’t say anything
straight away. She told him about all the phone calls,
ALL of which she said were positive - saying what a
brave and wonderful example he was to others his age. It
wasn’t completely true but Debra had to make her son
feel good about what he’d done and not dwell on the
sweetheart, the photograph has had a very positive
effect. The Echo called and said that because of it,
people are sending in further donations... and that my
darling, is simply down to you being so understanding to
the needs of Kevin and the other kids at the hospital.”
“But mum, they
made it look like I was messing myself. People will
think I did.”
“I’ve talked to
the editor and, he thinks he can make it okay by telling
your story about the challenge.”
“Who told him
“Well I did
sweetie. I know how upset you were with the photo being
taken out of context, so I told him you were dressed
like that for a reason.”
She looked to
see if Henry was taking any of this in or whether he was
still mad with the world. It was difficult to tell,
although he was obviously thinking about something.
“He thinks you
are more of a hero than... a little baby. He says you
taking up the nappy challenge was a courageous think to
do, and thinks, if we tell that story... other people
may well add to the fund-raising. That would be a good
thing... wouldn’t it?”
She continued in
this manner for a short while, hugging her son to
emphasise certain bits of her argument.
“But Carmen saw
me in a nappy and she’ll tell everyone I wear...”
it doesn’t matter because once the real reason is out
there, no one will be able to see it as anything but a
sure if this would be true but she at least had to try
to make him less anxious about that front page and be
“Mr Peake, the
editor at the Echo, has even suggested that maybe he
could get the people at the hospice to name part of the
fund-raising after your friend Liam... now wouldn’t that
be a great way to remember him by?”
Despite all the
positive words Debra wondered if she’d over stepped the
mark when Henry burst into tears. He held onto his
mother as he roared his heart out at the memory of Liam.
She realised how stupid and insensitive this had sounded
and was angry with herself for being so abrupt. This was
not the way she’d hoped that suggestion would go but
comforted her son, who seemed grateful for her
At the same time
he was crying his hardest, he involuntarily peed into
his briefs. The sudden realisation that he was wetting
his pants for a third time made Henry clamp his bladder
closed as tightly as he could. There was not enough to
cause a flood but enough that his mother would probably
As he came round
from his sorrow he was feeling very guilty, he was wet
for the second, no, third time, and desperate to deflect
what he was convinced would be his mother’s anger. She
surely wouldn’t put up with her toilet-trained youngest
starting to wet himself again. He looked over at the
nappy and vinyl pants he’d earlier so bitterly kicked
into the corner and at that moment wished he’d still
been wearing them.
childishly wetting his briefs, and the warm clamminess
beginning to worry him, and before the dampness alerted
his mum to what he’d done, he knew what he had to do.
Debra knew none
of what was going on in her son’s head. Nor was she
aware her son had wet himself, something he hadn’t done
since he was a toddler. So, oblivious, she just beamed
and hugged him when he whispered that it was okay to do
the interview with Mr Peake.
It was 5pm when
the editor arrived at their home for the interview. He’d
already spoken to all the others and it was just a few
words from Henry and his mother to finish the piece. In
his head Thomas Peake already knew he had a great story
and couldn’t wait to see the reaction in the following
secretly changed out of his wet briefs, cleaned himself
up but was wearing shorts and a polo shirt when the
photographer arrived. Although tempted, he decided to
avoid the disposable and wore another pair of briefs
(the wet ones having been rinsed through and guiltily
hidden in the laundry basket).
wanted a shot of mother, daughter and son all together,
as well as a couple of Henry playing with his toys or
out in the garden. Both the editor and photographer were
sad that he wasn’t still wearing padding though Mr Peake
had brought the bundle of clothes that had, along with
several hundred pounds worth of cash and cheques, been
donated at the Echo’s office. He offered it as evidence
to show just how much people had been influenced by
sure why people would donate clothes but, as they had
been addressed to ‘the Boy in a Nappy’, they’d
definitely been for him. Not only was there an array of
both fabric and disposable nappies, there were several
pairs of plastic and rubber pants, dummies and what
appeared to be big onesies that would be the right size
The seven year
old couldn’t understand why people would send such stuff
but the editor explained that not everyone read the
article but only saw the image and decided to send
something they thought would help Henry personally. For
instance, he clarified, the drooping nappy would be held
in place by the plastic pants and the onesie that
fastened with snaps between his legs.
getting a bit confused and annoyed.
“Yes, I know, I
used to have one when I was a baby but why would they
send them to someone my age?”
“Ellie told me
that some of the kids at the hospice wear them,” his
mother spoke trying to calm him down. “They like the
fact that it holds all their protection in place... and
it’s easier to change someone...”
drifted off because she was imagining him wearing it.
editor relied on all his powers from his journalistic
trade, to cajole the story from the boy and to try and
enlighten the lad of the power an image can have.
“Henry, I’m told
you didn’t like the fact of your photograph being used.”
“No I wasn’t.”
“So, let me tell
you that to many others this image, your image,
was the visual kick they needed to stop being complacent
and actually do something.”
uncomfortably in his seat now that he was the complete
and utter focus of the editor’s argument.
“You, and that
wonderful photograph, have set in motion something that
may well be bigger than you can imagine. You are an
inspiration to others who, by their donations of money
and clothing, have proved that not only was the Funday a
way of raising funds, but by your unselfish action, more
donations and ways to raise further finances for the
hospice have become possible.”
reinforcement, the encouragement, the intensity of the
editor’s words scared Henry. It was as if he would be
letting everyone down if he didn’t agree and that
comment about a memorial to Liam more or less sealed his
fate. He’d have to do what was being asked of him
otherwise he’d look a very bad friend indeed. He tried
to put a brave face on it... so reluctantly agreed.
It had been a
lot for the seven year old to take in but Henry deduced,
by the praise and smiles from his mother and sister, all
this was a good thing and he should be proud of himself
and not worry about what a few people might say.
was his big worry and despite being up for the
twenty-four hour ‘challenge’ set by Kevin, he really
wasn’t happy with being known as the ‘Boy in a Nappy’.
couldn’t have been more correct if he’d written the
script himself. The story ran in the following morning’s
edition of the Echo and by evening the office and Saint
Clare’s had received new donations by the ton. As he
predicted, Henry’s story of the nappy challenge and what
he did so his friends didn’t feel self-conscious, had
resonated with the newspaper’s readers.
Vast amounts of
money were being pledged, sponsors were coming forward
and the Echo even took on someone just to deal with all
the calls and people turning up at the office to donate
act was a major talking point and one taken up by a
Of course, as
Thomas Peake knew, it was the initial image that sold
the story and, at the end of the latest piece he’d added
a rear-view photo of Henry from the Funday. It was
another cute image, this time of his slightly sagging
nappy, his bucket and the words on the back of his
t-shirt ‘ tank u’. Once the national paper ran with the
complete story and images, the donations from around the
country, and some from overseas, the charity began to
realise they might achieve their ambitions sooner rather
Back in his
hometown Henry suddenly found he had problem. Though he
may not have wanted to be called ‘The Boy in a Nappy’,
that’s just how he was being described.
or donation was aimed at ‘The Boy in a Nappy’. Henry
didn’t appear to have a name, just a title, even the
hashtag on Twitter was #boyinanappy. The thing
was; everyone was talking about him and that image.
People who had probably never thought about charity were
being arm-twisted into giving something because of this
selfless little boy... the Boy in the Nappy.
Not only that,
but the Echo reported that one individual was offering a
donation to the cause as long as Henry continued wearing
a nappy 24/7.
This was not a
small amount and once it became known that the offer had
come from Brendan Lee Cooper, quite a few other famous
people got on-board and offered more contributions with
the same condition, he had to remain wearing a nappy.
At first it
appeared as if this was all a joke but, as the amount of
pledged money built up, it became impossible to ignore.
Cooper had issued a statement on Facebook and Twitter
about the Funday and his position as patron at the
hospice. In the message, sent to well over a million of
his followers, he commented on the photograph saying
what a “...brave and thoughtful young lad he was...” He
also went on to say the reason he wanted to sponsor
Henry to keep wearing a nappy was simply because he
couldn’t think of a better role-model, to all those who
had to wear protection but felt victimised because of
it, than the selfless seven year old.
his fans to ‘dig deep’ if they were able but ‘offer
support’ in any way they could to all those in hospitals
and hospices everywhere.
Away from the
hospital and out playing with his school friends Henry
had become a minor celebrity. They all knew about the
challenge, they’d all seen the photograph and everyone
had read the story, the trouble was, they now expected
him to wear a nappy all the time. Even when visiting his
mate’s homes it appeared that each member of the family
wanted to check, by patting his bottom, to see if he was
well-padded. They all appeared incredibly disappointed
since he’d returned to wearing underpants.
To begin with he
took it good-naturedly but when strangers started doing
it in the street he got a bit self-conscious. At the
time he knew little about the people who wanted to
sponsor him to be protected full time but eventually
that news trickled down to his ears.
It had been as
he visited Kevin and the gang at the hospice that he
heard the rumour about the sponsorship deal. The kids
seemed to know about it and were talking as if it was a
done deal, not even a rumour. When pressed, Kevin had to
admit it was only that morning the gossip mill had been
in full flow and because of all the famous personalities
that were rumoured to be involved, the hospital execs
expected to have its new extension started in a matter
pleased and wondered why neither his mother nor Ellie
had mentioned any of it.
Thomas Peake was
overjoyed with the reaction to the story but, at the
request of Debra, had not gone into any detail about the
response with Henry. He didn’t know that thousands and
thousands of pounds had been added to the fund-raising
total. He also didn’t know about the piles of clothing
and toys that, over the past few days, were amassing at
the Echo’s office aimed at ‘the Boy in the Nappy’. It
appeared that not everyone was bothered about the
hospice but a huge number were worried about a little
boy not having enough nappies to change into... it was
as if two charitable causes were being run at the same
already stashed away the initial bundle Mr Peake had
brought with him to the interview. Obviously he had
hoped to get Henry to wear some of it but the boy had
made it very clear that wasn’t going to happen. Of
course, his mother, ever hopeful of getting her baby boy
back, clung on to it all “Just in case” she told
Debra had simply
not believed the stories of all the celebrities wanting
to sponsor Henry to wear a nappy 24/7; she thought it
was just some kind of weird hoax. However, as the
guaranteed sums of money escalated beyond a joke she had
to take it more seriously. The newspaper was desperate
to relate this extra bit of the story but because of a
reticence to inflict further embarrassment on her son
(even though the whole idea appealed to her) Mr Peake
pressure was mounting and Ellie was being gently
persuaded by the charity committee at the hospice to get
her brother to comply. Meanwhile, because it was such a
terrific story, the editor was telling Debra that they
were going to publish but needed an answer as to whether
Henry would agree. Mr Peake pointed out that people, who
had invested in sending in vast donations, would
probably feel let down if her son didn’t take up this
extra fund-raising challenge.
To be honest she
could see this as something positive for the hospice and
although desperately wanting Henry to “go with the
flow” (as Thomas Peake had flippantly enthused) knew
that Henry himself was happy about the return to wearing
briefs. In fact, once he was out of the night time nappy
that Carmen witnessed had vowed to his mum he’d never
make that mistake again.
When his mother
picked him up from the hospital Henry wanted answers,
thankfully his mother had decided on speaking to him
about all that had been going on. She was honest,
telling him she herself hadn’t believed the offers and
it was only now, with the paper about to print the
story, that it had become serious.
Henry wanted to
be angry with her but realised she’d been trying to
shield him from further publicity but, as everyone in
the hospice knew about it, he had some serious thinking
to do. When Ellie came home they all sat down to discuss
Henry told them
the kids at the hospice had thought it was a done deal
and the committee were ready to bring the builders in to
start on the extension. Ellie had to agree that the way
things were being talked about the finances were going
to hit the target soon. However, in all honesty, she had
to admit, the amount Henry’s nappy sponsors were
offering would make that happen a lot sooner.
Debra told them
about the impending publication by the Echo and that, as
the editor said, it would look better if Henry was on
board with the idea then everyone would be happy.
The seven year
old pointed out that wasn’t true. #boyinanappy
The pros and
cons were discussed and young Henry had a surprising
grasp on the implications.
was being drawn into something he saw he would have no
control over but decided, albeit hesitantly, to go along
with it anyway. He understood it would be
terrific if more terminal kids could be cared for, so
that was a good thing. It might also be useful to raise
awareness about those who had no choice but to wear
protection and shouldn’t be side-lined because of it.
The pros seemed to out-stack the cons.
In fact, the
main con was that Henry would be in a nappy all the time
but, as Debra cleverly pointed out, his friend Kevin and
quite a number of other youngsters at the hospice, and
around the country, would be similarly dressed because
they had to, whilst Henry would be doing so because he
Then there was
another element no one seemed to have thought about;
with such large amounts of money being suggested surely
someone would need to monitor whether he wore a nappy or
His mother said
that as her part in all this, and despite her own hectic
work schedule, she would take on the responsibility of
making sure he was well-padded each day and that Henry
would have no problems to deal with, she would sort
everything out. Ellie said of course she’d do her bit
when she could and that between them all he needed to do
was wear what he was put in.
all the extra work this would entail for everyone Henry
seemed relieved that his family was showing such support
though wondered if he’d have to report to some
independent person on a daily basis.
After a call to
the Echo and a discussion between them, the charity and
the sponsors, it was agreed that they trusted Henry
completely. If he said he’d wear a nappy 24/7 then
they’d believe him. There was an unwritten, though
implied, threat that if he was found to be cheating, the
money might be forfeit.
As it was Mr
Peake had found someone to sponsor the entire provision
of products, which together with all the stuff that had
already been donated, meant that little Henry was going
to be extremely well-padded for the duration of the
There were four
weeks left of the summer break before a new school term
began so, after agreement within the family and a long
talk with Kevin (who reiterated that Henry would never
return to briefs once he’d enjoyed the soft, thick
padding of a nappy for such a length of time), agreed to
do it for that length of time.
“I don’t think I
have an option,” said Henry with a resigned shrug of the
“How can we be
sure that those who say they’re happy to sponsor this
event will actually cough up the promised money in the
It was Ellie who
asked the question.
had been getting very excited about all the lovely nappy
changes she was looking forward to, it was her daughter
who voiced a cautionary note.
looking through the piles of nappies and stuff that now
seemed to occupy every surface of the Warren home.
“We don’t want
Henry here to go through all that for nothing so, if...”
“Do we really
want to get bogged down in this kind of worry?”
Ellie hugged a
now concerned looking Henry to her side.
thinking of Henry.”
“Yes, we all are
sweetie but let’s leave the money and such stuff to the
Echo and Saint Clare’s to sort out... I think Henry has
enough to think about without worrying about that...
It was true.
Once they started to over-think, scrutinise, worry and
fret over everything, it would simply become a terrible
experience. Their mother was correct; let others worry
about all that. They should just concentrate on their
side of the bargain and that was to make sure Henry was
happy and organised for what he had to wear every day.
The story ran
the next day. A list of sponsors and some of the sums of
money promised was published alongside of a photo of
Henry, wearing a thick nappy, holding a pile of
disposables in his right hand and a pile of plastic
pants in the other.
There was also a
rather cheeky little interview that ran alongside the
item where Henry said he wished he’d never started this
and blamed Kevin for issuing the challenge and beginning
this unbelievable ball rolling. Thankfully, Kevin would
be joining him in this particular project and would also
be wearing nappies 24/7 (of course Kevin had no choice
in the matter, he had to wear them). It was a joke which
Kevin thought was hilarious.
There were also
messages of support from sponsors and the letters page
was full of incredible feedback and encouragement from
the public. #boyinanappy
despite his reluctance, and whilst wearing his briefs
for the last time, the two boys discussed this extension
to their challenge. Kevin came up with an idea so that,
at least one point in the process, Henry need not feel
he was doing all this alone.
The ten year old
put forward a proposal that, at the end of Henry’s
sponsored time in nappies, the charity should hold a
huge final fund-raising event. This would entail a
sponsored 10km walk around the hospice but everyone had
to wear protection to take part.
In theory at
least ‘Liam’s 10km Nappy Walk’ was born.
Thomas Peake loved the concept but doubted that the
charity would be able to organise such an event so
rapidly. However, to keep the story going, he suggested
the paper would act as sponsors and quickly got one of
the major incontinence product manufacturers to add
their name to the list of co-sponsors.
charity committee also thought the suggestion was a
great idea but, to be honest, simply saw ‘£’ signs and
their fund growing rapidly. They never gave much thought
to either Henry or Kevin who were the actual instigators
of the charity’s current run of good fortune. They were
happy to sit back and just watch the money come rolling
the various interested parties could make some
decisions, the proposed run wasn’t going to be
This lead to a
Such was the
newsworthiness of the latest development in the story
Henry and his mother had been invited onto a local TV
news show to explain why he was now wearing a nappy all
the time. Debra had taken great delight in getting him
ready making sure he wore a thickly padded nappy,
covered by a pair of clear vinyl pants and wearing a
onesie with snaps between his legs. She had reminded her
son that this would keep everything held close and
prevent any tell-tale sagging. Although it might be
bulky under his shorts, it shouldn’t show below them.
He didn’t like
this slight change to the way he wore a nappy but
realised that his mother might just know better than him
about such things. Also, she reminded him that some
other patients, from babies to teenagers at the hospice,
wore them so there was no reason for him to feel
because of that particular argument he didn’t put up
much of a fight when each morning she would happily get
all his stuff ready and lovingly apply the various
creams and powder. She told him that as he was wearing a
nappy, and to prevent it all coming loose by constantly
pinning and unpinning, he should use it for what it was
designed for like Kevin had to. This was something Henry
didn’t want to do but saw the sense in what his mother
There was no
doubt about just how padded Henry was and the cameras
picked up on the bulk in his shorts. The interviewer was
very nice and supportive but like so many older people
talked down to Henry which really annoyed the boy.
interview Henry gave credit for the entire thing to
Kevin and let the cat out of the bag about the proposed
run. He even inferred that all the famous sponsors would
no doubt be turning up to run in nappies to show their
support. He also hoped that the interviewer, who had
spoken such encouragement, would also be taking part.
She was left looking less than thrilled at the prospect.
switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree with people
wanting to know when and how they could take part.
The Echo and
Saint Clare’s switchboards were also inundated with
requests for application forms and Brendan Lee Cooper
was forced to change his initial reluctance to being
involved to one of support and that he’d definitely be
Debra and Ellie
had come to some sort of agreement about the way Henry
should be dressed. She inferred that the sponsors would
want him to wear certain clothes and have a certain
amount of visibility. She also thought that because of
the kindness of those who sent in particular items for
the ‘Boy in a Nappy’ to wear, it would be nice if he
did. She argued that if a photograph was taken, and on
the off chance they saw him wearing it, it would be good
and encouraging for all concerned.
So, with the
nappy sponsors insisting that their products were seen
and in any interview Henry was to speak in positive
tones about them, the scene was set for our padded hero.
This turned out easier than Henry imagined because Kevin
had been correct, he soon wore a nappy with the ease and
confidence of someone who’d had to wear one all their
life. Kevin had a smug knowing look on his face every
time he met up with his well-padded mate.
The plans for
‘Liam’s 10km Nappy Walk’ were put into place
surprisingly quickly. It was decided that the fields
around the hospice couldn’t contain the numbers that
were expected to take part so between the police, the
Council and the committee, it was obvious that the
race/walk should start elsewhere and finish in the
Fifty Acre Park
was designated the assembly and start point, which was
conveniently situated just over nine miles from the
hospital. A direct road linked the two places so
closures and diversions could be kept to a minimum. The
event suddenly had a date and time - Sunday 1st
October, The Echo said that all applications to take
part had to be registered, with a minimum £5 entry fee
and only those with an official registered number would
be allowed to participate.
The police had
put a maximum number allowed to compete but it was
grossly over-subscribed. Those who were in it to raise
more money for Saint Clare’s were given priority, whilst
sponsorship from local businesses added a great deal to
the charity’s coffers.
going to be everywhere and it looked like it might
become as big an event as the Funday.
It ended up
bigger; with all the merchandising and business
opportunities that entailed.
Henry had thrown
himself into his month of sponsored nappy wearing, both
at school and out and about, he wore all the time. Now
everyone knew the reason he was wearing them any
churlish or childish comments sounded more like sour
grapes than a put down. Everywhere he went applause
followed him, it became hard to say who the most popular
local personality was – handsome TV star Brendan Lee
Cooper or nappy-wearing seven year old Henry Warren?
Both his mother
and sister loved dressing up their little hero who took
it in his stride when they improvised a bit with the
clothes he’d been given. Loads of free stuff had been
delivered to the Warren’s home and Debra was convinced
they’d better get Henry into as much of it as possible.
Sometimes he waddled out the house with padding so thick
he wondered if they’d gone too far. However, his mum
kept insisting that the suppliers (and sponsors) had
various requirements so she was just following their
Of course she
loved every minute of it and cherished getting Henry
ready for bed in the thickest fabric nappies available.
Since that first night, when Mrs Parkhurst had seen him
wearing padding and had fallen asleep dressed that way,
he actually didn’t mind. He’d been surprised he could
sleep with such bulk fastened around him but he’d slept
well, it was very snug and he quite liked the comforting
sensation it had given.
Since his mother
had told him to use the nappy to save on all the
re-taping or re-pinning he’d often be wet for some time.
This gave her the excuse to make sure both his day time
and night time nappy was well-padded... so it held more
and thus needed fewer changes.
He did baulk at
using a dummy or a baby’s bottle, which his mother had
hoped to convince him to try. She tried to argue that it
was that image of him in a nappy and carrying a baby’s
bottle that had made this so successful but she couldn’t
get him to agree on that. However, he often slept with a
big cuddly stuffed animal, which Debra loved to see as
he drifted off to sleep, his slippery vinyl pants
shining in the evening light.
In fact, that
was one of the many things that she enjoyed about having
her boy dressed in such a way. She thought the
shimmering vinyl cover gave him an even more vulnerable
look than just wearing a nappy, although in general she
could never get over just how endearing the
tight-fitting protection made him appear. Luckily, Ellie
agreed with her mum and between them they simply
encouraged Henry to “go with the flow” (as they
now called it) and leave them to make the daily dress
code and for him to simply wear what was given.
When the month
of wearing nappies 24/7 first started Henry was adamant
that he should only wear certain things and seemed
determined not to be seen in anything outrageous. It
only took a couple of days for his mum and Ellie holding
stuff up and saying how wonderful he’d look in this,
that or the other, for him to realise it was no good
In some ways it
was unlike Henry to be so passive. He didn’t always do
as his mum told him and although he loved her and his
sister to bits, it wasn’t unknown for him to throw the
occasional temper tantrum. However, these were few and
far between and, though he might not have liked a great
deal of what he was forced to wear, he knew it was for a
This had come
about when once, when he’d been in a bit of a strop
about a colourful childish onesie Debra had fastened in
place, she was annoyed at his fussing.
To make him stop she simply said that no doubt
Liam wished he’d got a chance to worry about what he
wore. This immediately stopped Henry thinking of himself
and there were no more strops of any kind from that
moment on. He simply let his mum and sister get on with
it... she’d shamelessly made her young son feel guilty.
Debra was in her
element. There were a number of times when she could
hardly hold back the tears of love she felt for her
little boy. There were occasions, now he wasn’t so
fussy, when she had him all cleaned up and wearing a
lovely, soft, thick disposable just like when he was
two. Exactly like then, he’d be laid out on the bed,
legs wide with the fluffy white padding forcing them
apart ready for his plastic pants and with a thin,
well-made, white cotton onesie pulled over his head
ready to be fastened into place. Then his eyes would be
staring lovingly up at her whilst he sucked on his thumb
or nursed on a dummy before the press-studs made a
satisfying snap as they held his latest baby
protection in place. There was no thumb sucking these
days but she couldn’t shake that image.
Her heart was
made for such moments and she took full advantage,
making sure she had a wonderful mental picture of the
bulky mass stored away in her brain for when all this
was over and he no longer needed her... or the nappies.
He became a
‘free’ walking (or waddling) fashion model for pull-ups,
disposables, all manner of fabric nappies, vinyl and
rubber pants and a succession of items that certain
companies were hoping to get into the shops. His initial
reluctance to wear such colourful items was worn down by
the constant approval he received from members of the
public who just loved seeing him around town.
He wasn’t paid
anything for his contribution, in fact, money for Henry
was never even considered. The sponsors loved him. He
was an adorable, photogenic seven year old who had
captured thousands of hearts and was now being happily
exploited by several manufacturers and of course, the
charity he’d become so aligned with.
Although, to a
certain extent, Henry was the face of the ‘Nappython’
(as some of the kids were calling it), it was perhaps
inevitable that the fund-raising committee took full
credit for all the effort others put into the project.
In fact, the head of the charity committee was being
nominated for ‘Man of the Year’ at the county’s annual
Henry never lost
sight of the fact he was doing this in memory of Liam,
and that the sooner they could build the extension to
the hospice, the more kids in a similar situation to his
friend could be helped. That was the only spur he needed
to keep going. His plans for a summer playing with his
friends had been usurped by this charity stunt. It had
got out of hand but there was no way of reeling it back
in. With his family still very much in support of the
whole idea, and what it was trying to accomplish, he
decided to “go with the flow” as they called it.
Kevin and the
kids at the hospital all thought that ‘Nappython’ was a
much better term than ‘Liam’s 10km Nappy Run’, The Echo
agreed and it became known as ‘Liam’s Nappython’.
Although some thought with the inclusion of ‘thon’ in
its title it would be considered to be a marathon, the
name stuck and the eventual ten mile course was
All the kids in
the hospital and hospice had, as a result of the
publicity, become in demand. People wanted to meet them,
take them out (where possible), invite them to functions
etc. etc. their lives took on a different aspect to the
one they’d been used to. This was seen by everyone as a
fantastic bonus to the wellbeing of the young patients.
Henry and Kevin
spent a lot of time together and Henry had to admit that
he’d easily got used to wearing a nappy every day. Kevin
had warned him about the comforting hug and security it
gave him and that once his friend had got used to it,
knew he wouldn’t let them go easily.
This became true
when in September he started a new school term but there
was still a month to go before the ‘Nappython’. He’d
gone to school on that first day wearing briefs like any
other kid. Unfortunately, all his mates, and even the
teachers, seemed disappointed he wasn’t in his
‘trademark’ nappy. #boyinanappy
day, and much to his mother’s obvious pleasure, he bowed
to peer pressure turning up wearing a thick nappy under
his grey school shorts. The edge of a pair of nursery
print vinyl pants could just be seen at certain angles.
His class mates scrabbled around him
wanting to get a better look at what he was wearing...
most thought it was ‘cool’. Those who took an
alternative, negative view, were in the minority and
found their voice being drowned out by those who were
very much supportive of what the seven year old was
Kids in the
playground joked about the soft rustling sound he made
as he passed by but no one was nasty about it. Approval
from all levels was almost universal.
Debra had her
son back in nappies and couldn’t have been more pleased
because now it was school nights, was able to insist on
an earlier bedtime and stronger protection. This was
down to the fact that her little boy had returned to
wetting in his sleep. She didn’t mind as it appeared
that Henry had simply become used to it so the night
time nappy actually never stopped. It also didn’t help
that she let him drink as much as he liked before bed...
and he just loved his nightly milky treat.
If he was awake
he laid there until either mum or Ellie came to sort him
out, the comfort from the thick sodden padding not
giving him a moment’s worry. His daily clean-up
operation started early in the morning but by the time
he entered the classroom he was nicely padded and
Kevin was right;
a fresh dry nappy was something to look forward to.
Henry’s fame was
spreading as more and more news outlets latched onto
this selfless and committed seven year old doing such a
bizarre thing in memory of his dead friend. It was
amazing the messages he was getting from around the
world and even more offers arrived needing to be
considered. One of these was for Henry to become the
face of a juvenile disposable from a top brand
manufacturer based in the USA. This time money was
talked about and Debra was being pressured to sign a
contract whilst her son was still ‘flavour of the
It wasn’t a
large sum but one that, if put away until Henry reached
the age of majority, would provide a tidy little nest
egg for the lad. At first he wasn’t keen on the idea but
his mum argued that he didn’t really have to do
anything, as it was all about image, and that at least
he’d be able to look back and know he’d got something
out of it all.
said that he hoped a new wing on the hospice would do
that. His mum, whilst she still thought of him as her
cute little baby boy was, and not for the first time,
surprised at the sophistication and sense her seven year
old constantly brought to the proceedings.
seeing it as a problem he agreed and his mum signed the
contract which made Henry the face of ‘Diapers for
Saturday, he was whisked to a production studio in the
capital where he made a number of short commercials and
had a photoshoot of him wearing the disposable. After
all the time he’d now spent wearing nappies he wasn’t as
nervous as he thought he’d be and the American director
and British commercial manager congratulated Debra on
having a son who was both photogenic and a pleasure to
work with. It was a fantastic success although the
advert was never seen in the UK.
This was my
number – 1247.
The number I was
given to take part in Liam’s Nappython in aid of
Saint Clare’s Hospital and Hospice Fund (registered
Charity No 78923455B).
I can’t quite
express how excited I was to receive this piece of
information and how my anticipation grew with each
passing day leading up to the event.
I need to
confess something here.
I’ve written is true.
I mean the names
are true. The challenge was true. The Nappython took
place but, where I was ignorant of the true information,
I made it up.
I mean, I’ve
tried to be as accurate as possible. I’ve read all the
articles, I’ve watched all the TV reports and interviews
but I never actually met the hero of the moment, Henry.
I contribute to
the TV, Theatre and Movie reviews section for The Echo,
so know Thomas particularly well and it was from him, as
one of the main characters in how all this came about,
that I gleaned most of my information.
He was the one
who informed me that quite a bit of Henry’s enthusiasm
for all this came from his mother. She had a zeal about
the entire project and it was her who came up with the
idea that the sponsors insisted he wear certain things -
this was untrue, the impetus came from her.
I also can’t
stress enough how, from the first report that hit the
paper about this incredible, nappy-wearing seven year
old, how the ABDL sites I’m a member of took up the
gossip, conjecture and hopes that little boy engendered
in each one of us. He set our imaginations on fire.
Blogs and sites
carried opinions and quite often wrote their own
narrative. I am beholden to these people for some of the
ideas I’ve used here when I didn’t have a clue as to
what actually happened. I hope I can’t be accused of
plagiarism but they certainly gave my creativity a boost
I’ve been a
Nappy Lover (Diaper Lover to our American friends) since
I was twelve. The urge struck me then, and although my
usage was minimal, it never left me. When I was working,
and could afford to wear full time, that’s exactly what
happened and, although I wasn’t then out and proud
about it, I did and do wear 24/7.
When the 1st
October came around I can’t explain the eagerness I felt
to get to the park and join my fellow aficionados. The
weather promised to stay fine and warm and there had
been a general buzz of excitement in the town all week.
At around 7am my
neighbour told me that she’d already noticed a number of
nappy-clad people congregating at the park where she
walked her dog. As the event wasn’t scheduled to start
until 10.30 I thought these people must be very keen. I
myself hadn’t got ready at that time but admit had
planned what I was going to be wearing for quite some
I had a lovely,
thick fleecy terry nappy with three booster pads tightly
pinned in place, my exceptionally crinkly see-thru
plastic pants moulded themselves around the full
contours and I wore a pink t-shirt that simply
In the park I
heard a lady saying that she had children dressed in
nappies until they were ten years old... and it is from
her I added the only fictional character in my piece,
Once at the park
I couldn’t believe the numbers of people, 80% of whom
were in nappies of one kind or another, there must have
been thousands and I guess not all of them were
registered to run. I spotted certain t-shirts that I
knew were only available from particular ABDL sites,
some even had their web address under them.
Cars and vans
were pulling up full of packages of disposables in all
colours and sizes, which they were flogging. There were
plenty of official stalls but where there’s a market,
there’s an opportunist.
I was impressed
by the people that had gone to exceptional lengths to be
involved; several couples were acting as nanny and baby,
complete with prams and push-chairs. There were two or
three huge inflatable babies, crawling babies and some
with reins held by mummies or daddies (or masters or
mistresses). There were several who had taken Henry’s
‘collector’s uniform’ as a blueprint and versions of him
could be seen darting all over the event.
bonnets, infantile clothes, baby’s bottles, baby food,
toys were everywhere and stalls were doing fantastic
business selling all this stuff to those who hadn’t
actually brought it with them.
entrepreneur had t-shirts made with that image on
the front. Whoever it was must have done a terrific
trade because it was everywhere. ‘Pweeze Giv’ on the
front and ‘tank u’ on the back was homage to Henry and
just what he’d done for this eager and happy group of
It was such a
colourful cavalcade. People were undoubtedly dressing
over the top and young men and women in frilly plastic
pants appeared to be the norm. Even the people who’d
just come to offer support (or out of curiosity) were
smiling and appeared to be having a good time.
changed al fresco were all the rage, as was the
constant crinkle and rustle of plastic pants. The smell
of baby powder and lotion filled the air as did the
occasion whiff of urine as someone in a soggy nappy
A small fair had
established itself that was aimed more at kiddies, this
didn’t stop quite a number of baby-looking adults
climbing into the tea cups or horses on the roundabout,
and having their photograph taken.
There were male,
female, old, young, fat, thin and every ethnicity, I was
quite bowled over by the all-encompassing power that my
(and many others) fetish could produce. Of course, not
all those taking part were anything but advocates of the
charity and who’d been inspired by the events of the
past few months... but an awful lot were like me.
TV crews were
following Brendan and some of his soap star mates around
and I was pleased to see that he was wearing a wonderful
thick plasticky disposable with space ships all over it.
He was smiling a lot and having selfies taken with his
fans. There were other TV cameras doing news reports,
vox pops and interviews, it was all so, well,
It was hard to
believe that this started as a result of a young boy, a
seven year old boy at that, who didn’t want his friends
to think he thought any less of them because they had to
wear protection all the time. His solution had been
simple; to wear a nappy himself to prove it. How this
simple, selfless act had finally resulted in this mass
of nappy-wearing folk in a park raising money for
charity, was quite beyond comprehension. However, here
we all were.
At 10.30 the
Lord Mayor gave a little speech welcoming everyone and
hoping the event would lead to raising even more funds
for the charity. When he announced that Henry was going
to signal the start of the race a huge cheer went up. So
when he and a lad in a wheelchair, who I recognised as
Kevin, took to the dais, the applause and cheering was
After the hubbub
died down an air-horn indicated the start of the race. A
couple of guys in front of me looked like they were
running in very full nappies, I could smell the urine
and only hoped that they’d put plenty of Vaseline on,
otherwise they’d be badly chafed by the end.
People set off
at different speeds, some running, others jogging. Most,
like me, enjoying the freedom this moment had given and
desperate to make it last for as long as possible,
slowly waddled along.
As I moved past
the dais, this was the only time I saw Henry for real.
Up until that moment I’d seen his photograph of course,
the one that started this whole shebang, and I’d seen
him on TV but as I passed I was actually in awe of a
seven year old. He was wearing
something as bulky as mine except his vinyl pants had
cartoon character all over them and he was laughing,
thoroughly enjoying the event and hugging his friend.
That was the
first and last time I saw him.
I made loads of
contacts that day and my number of ABDL friends has
grown considerably. We may all have thought we were on
the periphery of society with our particular penchant
but this event proved we were definitely not alone.
I asked my
editor Thomas Peake if he thought it would become an
annual event like the Funday but he just shook his head.
the impetus would simply vanish. The story will no
longer be a story and the people won’t be as engaged as
they are at this moment.”
I wanted to
disagree with him but realised he was talking about the
public in general and not just us ABDLers.
It seemed a
shame but I could see his point and I have to admit that
that one day in October did an awful lot for me and I
suspect quite a number of others who perhaps had never
had the nerve to appear in public wearing just their
I thank Henry,
Kevin, Liam and all those who made it happen.... it was
one fantastic, memorable day.
The bit about
Henry being signed up to be the face of some disposable
manufacturer was a lie. I don’t know if that happened or
not as it was just a bit of wishful thinking on my part.
I hoped that such a brave and compassionate young lad
made something out of what happened.
There is now
an area around the hospice that has been screened off
and it looks like work is soon to start on the second
phase of the building.
raise quite a sum for others and I thought it would be
nice if he got some financial reward as well. I wanted
him to be happy and see the fruits of what he’d
accomplished, if not now, then later on.
I also hoped
that he’d be nominated as ‘Person of the Year’ but
surprisingly the awards committee overlooked him.
I wish him
luck and often wonder if in fact, like Kevin suggested,
he maintained wearing a nappy for much longer?
I love that
little guy for what he did for this town, what he did
for his friends, what he did for the ABDL community
(even if he wasn’t aware of that bit) and especially
what he’s done for me.
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