Kirrilie Flanagan is on a mission, a mission to make sure her son, Liam, meets television’s eleventh Doctor from Doctor Who, Matt Smith. So many of us would love the chance to meet The Doctor (myself included!), so what makes Liam so deserving?
Liam is 7 years old. His life has been far from easy. At a tender age he’s experienced years of crippling anxiety (unable to talk to anyone but his family, and then only in their own home) and underdeveloped motor skills that would be a blow to any child’s confidence.
He had an incredibly lonely time in kindergarten, unable to mingle with the other children due to his extreme anxiety. Kirrilie says:
“The whole idea of him starting school scared the hell out of me.”
So the family supported Liam through early intervention therapies. After a lot of hard work by Liam and his family, Kirrilie, with much trepidation, started Liam in Prep (the first year of school in Victoria).
It was a shaky start. Around the same time, ABC2 started airing repeats of the new series of Doctor Who, and the Flanagan’s loved to watch it as a family.
“To see a man who had amazing adventures and conquering big enemies without hurting them was amazing,” says Kirrilie. She credits Doctor Who with giving Liam the additional courage he needed to cope with school each day. Then came a revelation, Liam’s teacher learned he was a Who fan, and confessed she was too. Over the coming months, Liam learned to trust the first person outside his family – his Whovian teacher. He started to talk to her, and before long he was also talking to his classmates and others at the school.
At the end of his first school year, Liam had grown and changed so much. Kirrilie and the Flanagan’s were so proud of him. Doctors still weren’t sure what was causing his anxiety and other issues, so Liam was booked for an MRI. Have you ever tried to get a six-year-old to sit perfectly still for 10 minutes? Impossible! I hear you say. How about getting a six-year-old to sit still for 40 minutes for an MRI? But Kirrilie had an ace up her sleeve, it was Doctor Who to the rescue again, Liam was kept calm and distracted by being able to watch an episode of his favourite show whilst enduring the MRI.
Finally a diagnosis came, and it wasn’t good news. Liam had a large arachnoid cyst covering his left frontal and temporal lobes. It wasn’t life threatening, but it was causing his anxiety, language, and motor skills problems. Due to the size of the cyst, doctors said it was inoperable. His skull was the size of an adult male’s and had grown half a centimetre in the last six months. On Friday 8th November Kirrilie received a call to say an operation could be conducted the following Monday, 11th November to insert a shunt which would relieve the pressure and stop the skull expanding. The family dreaded the nervous two day wait ahead of them for Liam’s operation. They alleviated some of the anxiety with a little… yes, you guessed it, Doctor Who!… A Doctor Who pop-up shop appeared in Richmond over the weekend and off they went for a little fun and distraction.
Liam’s surgery went well. Two incisions were made in his head and a hole drilled in his skull. The shunt was successfully inserted. He was incredibly brave, and hardly cried at all (only when he was in pain).
A week later, Liam celebrated his seventh birthday. Another week later the Flanagan family watched the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special in style at the cinema. The joy on Liam’s face during that special is a memory that Kirrilie will treasure forever.
And now it is 2014. Matt Smith is making a much-anticipated trip to Australia for the WHOniverse event and will be in Melbourne in March this year. Kirralie is so in awe of her hero, her son, Liam who has been dealt a tough hand and taken everything on the chin and bravely marched on. She would dearly love to take Liam to that event to meet the hero that has helped him and his family through an ordeal no seven-year-old should experience, to be able to grant him the joy that he brings her every day. But the expense of the Gold tickets required to meet Matt Smith are beyond her means. So she’s appealed to the good will of internet citizens to try and make it happen. Kirralie has started a Facebook Page and a Go Fund Me page to try to appeal to Matt Smith or WHOniverse management for a meeting with Liam’s idol or try to raise the money to buy the Gold tickets. The Facebook Page, “Let’s help Liam make the impossible happen to meet Matt Smith”, quickly surpassed 5,000 likes within days of being created.
We believe that where there’s a will there’s a way, so we want to help get this story out there. We implore YOU, as an Aussie mum who’d do anything for her kids, or as a Whovian who understands the power of The Doctor, please share this story as far and wide as possible to help make Liam’s dream to meet Matt Smith come true.
Make a donation on Liam’s Go Fund Me Page.
Visit and share Liam’s Facebook Page.
Share this story on Facebook.Image credits: Liam’s Facebook page; Desherinka/Wikimedia Commons