'Magical' little boy Hector dies following brave battle with rare illness
- Credit: Howlett family
A family has paid tribute to their "wonderful, magical little boy" who has died following a courageous battle with illness.
Hector Howlett, from Great Witchingham, was diagnosed with Alpers' syndrome - an extremely rare, genetic condition - in October.
Given months to live, Hector's condition deteriorated until he died on Tuesday, February 8, surrounded by family including his mum, Tara, dad Lee and brother Arthur.
Mrs Howlett said: "It was heartbreaking to see him go from this wonderful, magical little boy to somebody fighting this terrible illness.
"In the end, he lost the ability to swallow and move his limbs. He did so well to go on for so long.
"He even fought off Covid in the new year. Then, unfortunately, he got another respiratory infection and his little body just could not cope anymore.
"We got our wish because he was peacefully at home with us when he died."
Paying tribute to her son, she added: "We were desperate to have him because we'd had a loss before.
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"He was a very special boy and he fought so hard.
"We are incredibly proud of him and his brother, and we will miss Hector every second of every day."
Despite their life-changing loss, Hector's family will remember with fondness the final few memories they made together.
They included a trip to Center Parcs and a visit to Lapland UK for his first birthday.
"We had been really worried he would not be able to do all those things," added Mrs Howlett.
"We didn't think we would get those extra months with him, but he was so determined right to the end."
Another positive to come from Hector's ordeal was the creation of a lasting legacy - a play park behind the family home where Arthur will be able to remember his brother.
The tot even got to have a go on one of the swings before he died.
Around £25,000 was raised through a fundraising appeal, more than triple the original target.
Leftover money is being donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital, The Lily Foundation, East Anglia's Children's Hospices and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
"We were truly overwhelmed," said Mrs Howlett. "It just goes to show how much people care."
Hector's funeral will take place from 1pm on Friday, March 4, at St Mary's Church in Great Witchingham.