CHRISTMAS came early for heart transplant champion Max Johnson whose bike was wrecked by vandals.

The 12-year-old was gutted to discover that the rear wheel of his bike had been stolen and the back brakes and chain smashed.

Halfords turned Santa and built the Winsford schoolboy a custom made bike and delivered it, complete with a red bow.

Winsford Guardian:

Max was thrilled to receive the new bike, complete with a red bow

Max said: "I love it. It is a really good bike and a much more modern version than my old one. It was really kind of Halfords to do this. I feel like it's Christmas or my birthday."

Family friend Ben Ireson set up a GoFundMe page to fund a replacement but after the High Street retailer stepped in to donate a new bike, it was decided to donate the money to charity.

So far £780 has been raised for The Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant Association which offers support and practical help to transplant patients.

Winsford Guardian:

Max says the new Carrera Vengeance mountain bike is much better than his old one

Max's mum Emma said: "Max is absolutely thrilled to bits with his new bike. We are so grateful to Halfords. It shows they are a compassionate company. They had to build the bike in their distribution centre specially for Max as there is a shortage of bikes due to the pandemic.

"This is a beautiful bike which will last him for years. It has eight gears, lovely Japanese pedals and really plump tyres, much thicker and stronger than his previous bike."

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Max said he has enjoyed riding his black and grey Carrera Vengeance mountain bike round his home.

Government advice about transplant recipients has changed which means that Max no longer has to shield at home and can return to Winsford Academy next week.

Emma said: “Everyone at Winsford Academy has gone out of their way to make Max feel welcome and they understand his needs.

“The range of lessons and subjects are really fulfilling for Max. He has drumming lessons once a week. He is happier than we have seen him for a long time.”

Winsford Guardian:

Max is looking forward to returning to Winsford Academy

"I really like the school," said Max, who uses his bike to ride to and from school. "I feel very safe and all the kids are pretty cool. My favourite subjects are English and information communication technology. I also love buildings and architecture."

The keen amateur photographer hopes to become an engineer or designer.

Max is only alive today thanks to Keira Ball, a nine-year-old who tragically lost her life in a car crash.

The schoolboy was only eight when he suddenly fell ill and was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy.

Max spent 206 days in hospital on the urgent transplant list. Consultants said afterwards he was only a whisker away from dying.

He became an ambassador and spearheaded new legislation known as Max and Keira's Law to save more lives. Consent for organ donation will now be presumed unless people opt out.

Max was hailed a Child of Courage in the Daily Mirror's Pride of Britain awards for campaigning vigorously to encourage more people to become organ donors.

Gary Evans, principal of Winsford Academy, said: "Max is a lovely lad. We are delighted he is coming back to school. It is really important for me that he feels safe here.

"It is a fantastic gesture from Halfords to donate a new bike."