Isaac, Matt, Eli, Jesse and Tracey Honeysett with their springer spaniel Rusty. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

Brave boy back at family farm after 21 months in hospital

CHELSEA BOYLE

chelsea.boyle@age.co.nz

After 637 days away from home, Eli Honeysett has moved back in with his family in Kahutara.

The 7-year-old was diagnosed with a rare condition called infectious myelitis that left him paralysed in 2016.

He spent 310 days in Starship Hospital in Auckland and a further 327 in Wairarapa Hospital.

Now he is finally back home on the family farm in South Wairarapa, playing with his two brothers and watching the trusty dog Rusty roam around the backyard.

His father Matt Honeysett always said bringing him home was not a question of if, but a question of when.

“This has been our end goal,” he said.

“So now it’s about finding our feet, finding a routine.”

One of the best parts of having Eli home had been having the entire family around the table for dinner, he said.

Eli said he liked being home for dinners and enjoyed having his own tree house under a low hanging tree – no adults allowed.

The move had been full of mixed emotions, with Eli being excited to go home but sad to say goodbye to his hospital team.

Since moving home a week ago he had been spending much more time out and about in his wheelchair and was expected to return to school this year.

His mother Tracey Honeysett said it had been nice waking up to the sounds of Eli chatting to his twin brother Isaac, or the sound of them watching cartoons together.

The bond that they have was really strengthening again, she said.

The couple were blown away by how generous the wider community had been helping them bring Eli home.

“Sometimes it comes from where you don’t expect it,” Mr Honeysett said.

It was not just donations of money, but people had volunteered their time to look after the kids or cook meals for the family, he said.

They had a brilliant fundraising committee, who had organised fundraising events.

In November, the team at Langlands had held a trail ride fundraiser, and Andrew Tulloch donated a Honda CRF450 to be raffled off for the cause.

Mr Honeysett said there were too many people to thank to list individually.

Hospital staff in Auckland and Masterton, their team at the farm, and the people at Kahutara School had been incredibly supportive.

Mrs Honeysett said they read every single comment on the Givealittle page.

Having Eli home was “awesome” and they were surprised at how quickly he had adjusted to being home.

“He’s proven a lot of people wrong,” Mrs Honeysett said.

“He’s extraordinary.”

“He’s pretty unique,” Mr Honeysett agreed.

The family were still fundraising for a van for Eli but in the meantime, had been using a red van that had been lent to them.

The kids were calling it the ‘Jaffa van’.