You would be impressed, wouldn’t you, if Air Mail Pilot told you that just two weekends ago, a four-year-old boy climbed the highest mountain in Wales? You’d surely be even more impressed if reminded that this ascent took place not, say, in balmy June but rather in late November, in the wake of a major snowstorm, when the weather was still raw and windy. But here’s the most impressive thing of all: the boy made the climb on a prosthetic left leg.
Albie-Junior Thomas, who lives in the small town of Holywell, in Northern Wales, was born with a condition called fibula hemimelia, in which all or part of one of the major bones in the lower leg is missing. In Albie-Junior’s case, this resulted in a below-the-knee amputation when he was just 15 months old.
By the time he was two, however, Albie-Junior had been fitted with a prosthesis and was not only walking here, there, and everywhere, but also proving to be an avid runner and outdoorsman. He’s now got his sights set on becoming a Paralympian, as he told Prince Charles when the two met at a church last July. (Prince Charles, as you may know, is Meghan Markle’s father-in-law, and also the future king of Great Britain.)
In the meantime, Albie-Junior is contenting himself with feats like climbing to the top of Mount Snowdon, which at 3,560 feet is the tallest in Wales. (It would rank much, much lower in the U.S., but let’s not brag; any mountain over 3,000 feet is considered a significant peak.) Accompanied by his father, Albie-Junior made it up and back in less than five hours—a relatively quick ascent even by adult standards.
As well, the two picked the most difficult route to the top. “None of it was hard,” the boy told Britain’s ITV. His father, Daniel Thomas, said that at one point, when the trail going up briefly dipped, Albie-Junior complained, “I thought there was supposed to be big mountain.” He then nonchalantly turned five a few days later.
“He’s fitter and stronger than most other boys his age,” Daniel told the Times of London. “He shows them what to do.” Albie-Junior is believed to be the youngest amputee ever to climb Mount Snowdon, but not the youngest, period: an intrepid three-year-old set the age record in 2019. And it’s theoretically possible that, even as you read this, a nine-month-old showoff is crawling to the top.
More trivia: there is a movement in Wales to return the mountain to its original Welsh name: Yr Wyddfa. The English name “snowdon” derives from the Saxon “snow dune,” or snow hill. The mountain was not named for Lord Snowdon, the posh photographer who was once married to Princess Margaret. (She was the great-aunt of Meghan Markle’s husband, Prince Harry.) —Bruce Handy
Driving the length of Great Britain is hardly a newsworthy feat. Do it in the world’s smallest car, though, and you’ve got a headline.
On November 13th, Alex Orchin, a Brit from Wivelsfield, England, started his 1,400-mile journey across the U.K. in his tiny blue Peel P50. In three weeks, he traveled from John o’Groats, Scotland, in the northernmost point of Great Britain, to Land’s End, England’s southernmost tip. The door fell off during the final 50 miles, so Alex completed the trip with it tied to the car.
“I can’t believe that little car has managed it,” Alex told the Daily Mail. “What an achievement.”
Alex has loved Peel P50’s since visiting the Beaulieu Motor Museum as a child. At just 54 inches long and 41 inches wide, the model was named the world’s smallest car in The Guinness Book of World Records. First produced between 1962 and 1966, it looks strikingly similar to a Fisher Price Cozy Coupe—the popular red-and-yellow toy car for kids.
Original models can cost up to $120,000, but fortunately for Alex, a modern—and more affordable—iteration of the P50, which includes a reverse gear, was reintroduced in 2011. Four years ago, he proudly purchased his dream car.
The car is so tiny that its speed is largely determined by the height and weight of the driver. Alex stands at 5 foot 11, so his car could only make it to 23 m.p.h. “As far as I know I am the first person to attempt the journey in a P50,” he told the Sun. “You have to be a sociable person to drive this car because people are always stopping to talk to you and take pictures.”
Alex’s trip wasn’t just for fun, though. He turned the journey into a fundraiser for Children in Need, a non-profit that helps U.K. kids in poverty. Throughout the trip, Alex raised awareness for the charity by driving through attractions across the U.K. He lapped race tracks, cruised through castles, and even drove to the top of Blackpool Tower (Britain’s version of the Eiffel Tower). By the end of his drive, Alex had raised more than $13,500 on his Go Fund Me page.
“The reception we’ve had from start to end has been incredible,” Alex told the BBC. “I remember one time a vehicle overtook me with the hazards on, and he was flagging me down and I thought I was in trouble. He came to the window and he gave me a donation, saying ‘I love what you’re doing, I’ve seen you on the news, thank you so much’.” —Alex Oliveira
At seven years old, Aditya Geddada landed a job in the first movie he ever auditioned for: Michael Pearce’s new sci-fi thriller, Encounter.
“I was really shocked when I heard I got the part,” says Aditya, who lives in San Jose, California, with his family. “I almost fainted. I mean, it’s not normal for a kid like me to just do one audition and to get cast.” He celebrated the way many kids do: going out for a burger and a milkshake.
In the movie, now in theaters, Aditya stars alongside Academy Award nominees Riz Ahmed and Octavia Spencer. Even so, he has already been lauded as a “scene stealer” in reviews.
The film’s topsy-turvy plot follows an ex-Marine who believes he’s on a rescue mission to save his two sons—one played by Aditya—from a mysterious threat. As they speed across America, the nature of the threat becomes increasingly unclear.
Aditya never sought out an acting career. Neither of his parents worked in the movie industry, and he was discovered the old-fashioned way: while playing in the lobby of a hotel. “I actually always wanted to be a scientist,” he says.
With his unvarnished charisma, Aditya is a natural. And, as it turns out, memorization is a breeze for the young actor. (He got his practice by listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks on repeat. “I have almost memorized all of them,” Aditya says.)
While the Encounter script didn’t cause Aditya any trouble, he did have one on-set mishap. “We were freezing our heads off on a mountain that was as cold as Mount Everest,” Aditya says. “We had heat packs taped all over our bodies. But then I put so many on that I started to fall asleep. My co-stars literally shoved candy into my mouth to keep me awake.”
What kind of candy? “Skittles, M&Ms, Twix, Snickers, you name it.” — Bridget Arsenault