A little boy's smile lit up the room when he set eyes on his first ever birthday party.

Jonty Payne, now 5, who suffers from a birth defect, had about 40 guests to play with at his party today in Riccarton, Christchurch.

This made a huge difference from Jonty's previous celebrations as he had never been invited to a party before.

He has congenital scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine caused by a birth defect. He also has language delay and limited motor skills.


His grandmother and caregiver Donna Payne, 50, said that Jonty's previous birthdays were spent with family, except for his third birthday when he was in Starship "getting rods and pins put in his back".

Payne told Kelly Dugan, who runs charity SmileDial, she was worried that other kids would not celebrate Jonty's big day.

"She was a bit worried about him having no friends to come to his party, so I said I'd organise something," Dugan said.

"Jonty had a brilliant birthday party . . . he's very tired, but he had a great time and his family who were there to enjoy it with him too were happy to see him have a really great party."

The party was meant to take place at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, but had to be moved to the SmileDial offices because of rain.

The Facebook event page indicated 160 people confirmed they were going and over 400 were interested in going.

Payne said Jonty had got a bike, Thomas the Tank Engine puzzle and costume.

"As long as there's something with Thomas the Tank Engine he'll be happy."

Dugan revealed the most touching thing was the parents who'd called to say their children would like to be friends with Jonty.

Payne said she was overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to celebrate her grandson - who she's cared for since he was a baby and who calls her "Mum".
"It's great that he'll have kids to celebrate the day with him, because 5 is a big birthday.

"We didn't expect it to go viral the way it did."

The party was a surprise for the little boy, who she said has a great sense of humour, a rascally streak and no fear.

Dugan said a local cake company had volunteered to make a three-tier Thomas the Tank Engine cake because he loves Thomas.

"Jonty hasn't had the easiest life so far but he's still a great kid and now all of a sudden he's getting an amazing birthday."