Mum of brave Sunderland tot Rubie O’Brien praises Echo Awards for making happy memories

Rubie O'Brien on her  pink trike with mum Ciara Heffernan.
Rubie O'Brien on her pink trike with mum Ciara Heffernan.

A brave Sunderland tot is making incredible progress a year on from winning a Best of Wearside Child of Courage Award.

Rubie O’Brien, three, was one of our courageous winners in the Echo’s awards last year after judges were moved by her bravery in dealing with spina bifida.

Rubie O'Brien on her pink trike.

Rubie O'Brien on her pink trike.

The condition is caused when a baby’s spine and spinal cord don’t develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.

The youngster from Norton Road, Southwick, has already undergone five operations, countless trips to hospital and spent around three quarters of her life in plaster cast.

But the future looks bright for the tot as she continues to go out and about on a specially adapted trike and can even stand when supported by a chair.

Her proud mum Ciara Heffernan said she was delighted that her daughter’s courage had been recognised with the Best of Wearside Award and urged others to nominate those who also deserved recognition.

We have the award on our fireplace and the awards night itself was amazing. The award is something nice for her to look back on and we also created some lovely memories on the night

Ciara Heffernan

Ciara, a midwifery student said: “Rubie is doing really well.

“She had an MRI scan back in October at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) and we have an appointment with a plastic surgeon and a neurosurgeon at the RVI in January to see if they can operate on a lesion on her back to remove it to make it less prominent and less sensitive for her.

“But I don’t know if they are going to do anything yet as it depends on where the nerves are.
“Because if they are quite far out of her back it could cause nerve damage and she could lose the sensation in her legs.

“So we are waiting on the results of the MRI scan.”

Brave Rubie O'Brien in hospital after her hip and knee operation in 2016.

Brave Rubie O'Brien in hospital after her hip and knee operation in 2016.

Rubie was in the Royal Victoria Infirmary for nine days after she was born and had casts on her legs for talipes which meant she had clubbed feet.

She has undergone operations to help straighten one of her feet and snip the tendons of both feet.

And now she will need to have another operation on her right foot to straighten it as it is still twisted.
It will be the second time she has had it done on her right foot.

And at just nine months old the little battler underwent surgery on her hips after being born with hip dysplasia, which means the ball of the joints are not in their sockets.

Rubie O'Brien in hospital after she was born.

Rubie O'Brien in hospital after she was born.

Ciara, praised her daughter’s bravery and said the award she received is one they treasure.
She continued: “I am really proud of Rubie.
“We have the award on our fireplace and the awards night itself was amazing.

“The award is something nice for her to look back on and we also created some lovely memories on the night.
“It was nice that her bravery has been recognised by the public and not just her own family.

“I would encourage people put nominations in as it is a lovely award to have and it creates lots of memories.”

How to nominate:

This year’s Best of Wearside Awards have been backed by partner sponsors Gentoo and category sponsors Calsonic Kansei.

There’s plenty of time to get those entries in. You can nominate right up until Wednesday, February 28.

After that, the panel of judges will meet to draw up this year’s shortlist of contenders before the final at Stadium of Light on Thursday, March 15.

To nominate, just send your name, address and telephone number, as well as your email address, if applicable. Remember to include the category you are putting your nominated cause into.

Also send the name of the person you wish to nominate, along with their address, telephone number and email (if known).

Send all of that to Lynn Wild by no later than.

Email those entries to lynn.wild@jpress.co.uk or send them to Lynn Wild, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.

The categories:

Local Hero.

Green Champion.

Student of the Year.

Fundraiser of the Year.

Volunteer of the Year.

Sporting Achievement.

Community Group.

Community Champion.

Child of Achievement.

Child of Courage.