Brave Rhiannon raises a huge £10,000 for the RD&E’s Spinal Unit

22 Aug 2019

An incredibly brave 11-year-old girl has raised an impressive £10,000 for the RD&E Spinal Unit, just two years after undergoing major spinal surgery.

At just six-years-old Rhiannon Hewitt, from Camelford, Cornwall, was doing handstands with her sister when her grandmother noticed that Rhiannon’s back looked out of shape. An x-ray found that Rhiannon was suffering with a 60 degree curve of the spine, known as Scoliosis. From then on, to try and reduce the risk of the curve increasing, Rhiannon wore a brace for three years, 23 hours a day.

Rhiannon explained, “At first the brace felt weird, but it didn’t take long to get used to wearing it and after about 10 days I was wearing it for 23 hours a day. After a while, I didn’t like taking it off for too long or else my back would ache.”

In June 2017, Rhiannon and her family were told that they should consider surgery after x-rays showed that her curve had increased to 82 degrees and was likely to get progressively worse.

“After we found out about the progression of Rhiannon’s curve, my husband, our family and I had a long talk and agreed that something had to be done for Rhiannon. We knew that we were in great hands with the scoliosis team in Exeter and in the end it was a no brainer to give Rhiannon a good quality of life - that’s what any parent wants for their child.” Rhiannon’s mum, Michelle, explained.

Rhiannon had her surgery on 20 September and was recovering at home by 25 September. It was then that she decided that she wanted to raise money for the unit. Over the course of a year, Rhiannon, Michelle and their friends and family held a variety of fundraising activities including bingo nights, quizzes, tractor runs and entertainment evenings where Rhiannon and Michelle sang.

Rhiannon said: "I knew I wanted to do something to raise money to help others at the hospital where I had my treatment, and to say thank you to Mr Stokes and the incredible team in Exeter.”

Michelle said: “Fundraising for this fabulous unit was a way in which Rhiannon and ourselves could show our appreciation and turn a negative into a positive. Rhiannon had loads of fun raising awareness and funds for a great cause, where she is still receiving treatment and will be for a considerable amount of time to come. This was a way of saying thank you and to praise the NHS and spinal unit at the RD&E for being such a truly remarkable team.”

Mr Stokes, Consultant Spinal Surgeon, said: “We are extremely grateful for this impressive donation and for all the hard work that Rhiannon, Michelle and their family put in to make this happen. The money will be spent on spinal research, with the aim of improving spinal care for patients in the future.”

Ian Roome, Head of Fundraising at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Charity, said “This is a truly remarkable donation to our Spinal Unit charitable fund which will greatly benefit patients at the RD&E. We as a hospital charity are really grateful to Rhiannon and her family for all their fundraising efforts.”



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