THERE were emotional scenes at Tamworth airport on Monday night as local burns survivor Josh McCulloch made his long-awaited homecoming.
Tears of joy flowed freely when the 13-year-old walked through the arrivals lounge door and into the arms of waiting loved ones.
He embraced his dad first, with father and son clinging to one another for several minutes in a heartwarming display of affection.
“It’s awesome,” Paul McCulloch said of his son’s return. “I’ve missed him so much. It’s been too quiet at home.”
Speaking out for the first time since his ordeal, the youngster, dressed in shorts and a black T-shirt together with a splint protecting his most fragile skin grafts, could barely contain his excitement at being back.
“It’s so good,” he said. “I just want to go home to my own bed.”
It has been several weeks since the Tamworth High School student has seen so many familiar faces.
On February 28 he sustained excruciating burns to 25 per cent of his body when the methylated spirits he was boiling caught alight during an ill-fated science experiment.
The harrowing classroom accident left him with severe burns to his back, shoulder and minor burns to the side of his face and he was rushed to Sydney’s Westmead Children’s Hospital for treatment hours later.
Among the well-wishers who waited patiently for Josh and his mum, Janet Ryan’s return, were a group of school mates armed with a massive sign welcoming their mate “Joshy” home and a bunch of yellow balloons.
Mr McCulloch said he believed it was the avid kickboxer’s fitness levels that helped him pull through.
“Nothing will change,” Mr McCulloch said. “We’ll have to back off (the training) a bit, but we’ll walk the dogs and just ease into it.”
The homecoming was equally sweet for Mrs Ryan, who had not left her son’s side since the incident.
“When we started seeing the brown country I started welling up,” Mrs Ryan said.
“I got really emotional when I knew we were home.”