THE parents of a severely autistic teenager are “excited” at the news he will be back in Cornwall within five months.
Josh Wills’s dad Phill Wills said it was “surreal” but “incredible” to be told he would be home by February and looked after by care provider Spectrum at a specially-equipped house.
The 13-year-old has lived in a specialist facility in Birmingham for the past two years.
Mr Wills, of Truro, and his former wife Sarah Pedley, of Redruth, make the 520-mile round trip every weekend and have campaigned for his to return to Cornwall since 2012.
Mr Wills said: “It’s quite surreal really. We have been working so hard every day since Josh left Cornwall and to have received the news last week that a care provider and a house has been picked was incredible.
“There is still a lot of work to do, but the papers have been signed and that is the biggest step yet.”
Josh will live with several full time carers in a house which will be tailored to his needs.
Mr Wills added: “I was at the house on the weekend and it really started to become real that he was coming home.
“We were walking around and I could just picture us all sat in the garden having a cup of tea and Josh playing with his brothers and sisters.”
He is also looking forward to introducing Josh to his sister Marnie for the first time, adding: “We are very excited for them to get to know each other.
“Elliot, our other son, was only two months old when Josh left and he talks about him all the time and kisses his photo every day.”
Josh’s campaign has been supported by more than 3,000 people online, and Health Minister Norman Lamb.
Mr Wills added: “When we announced that Josh was coming home we had so many messages of support and congratulations from all over the world. People were emailing from Canada and Australia telling us that they were literally jumping around their living rooms at the news.
“I also received a message from Norman Lamb, who has been instrumental in getting Josh home.”
Mr Will also thanked readers of the West Briton for their support.
“There are so many things I am looking forward to about having Josh back home, but most of all I can’t wait to not have to travel 260 miles just to give my son a hug,” he said.
In a joint statement, Trevor Doughty, Cornwall Council’s corporate director for education, health and social care, and Peter Stokes, NHS Kernow’s deputy director of operations, said: “Josh’s complex needs mean he needs specialist care that can only be delivered by highly skilled staff. We have been working, in consultation with Josh’s family, to develop a service which will enable him to receive the care he needs closer to home when he is ready to be discharged from the specialist NHS unit currently caring for him.
“We are doing all we can to ensure Josh’s care is provided close to home, as soon as is safely possible.”