Dorset

Ex-soldier receives Serbian award for cleft boy help

Wayne Ingram pictured with Stefan Savic as a boy Image copyright SWASFT
Image caption If left untreated Stefan Savic's cleft could have had serious health complications

A former soldier who helped a boy with a rare facial cleft has become the first British citizen to receive a humanitarian award in Serbia.

Wayne Ingram, from Weymouth, raised £140,000 for the boy who he first met on Army patrol in Bosnia 14 years ago.

Stefan Savic, now 18, has undergone a series of operations and has since made a full recovery.

Mr Ingram, a South Western Ambulance paramedic, said receiving the award was a "humbling and memorable experience".

Image copyright Wayne Ingram
Image caption Stefan Savic had his most recent operation in October last year

Mr Ingram raised the funds to pay for five operations for Stefan, who had his first operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in July 2003 and his final one in October last year.

If left untreated Stefan's cleft could have had serious health complications, including blindness and the restriction of his airway, the ambulance service trust said.

'Emotional rollercoaster'

Mr Ingram, who was nominated for the award by a Serbian newspaper, attended the awards ceremony at Belgrade City Hall.

"It was a truly humbling and memorable experience," he said.

"I feel immense pride - the whole thing has been a rollercoaster of emotions.

"Stefan's facial transformation and progress is truly remarkable."

He said he would maintain contact with Stefan and his family.

Image copyright SWASFT
Image caption Wayne Ingram said receiving the award was a "humbling and memorable experience"

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