Hartlepool dad and wife renew their wedding vows so daughter with brain condition can be their bridesmaid

The O'Donovan family. From left: Henry, Olivia, Lilley, Kirsty, Harry, Paul, Lyla and Reece.
The O'Donovan family. From left: Henry, Olivia, Lilley, Kirsty, Harry, Paul, Lyla and Reece.

A courageous little girl who is facing an uncertain future achieved one of her big goals for the year by being a bridesmaid as her parents renewed their wedding vows.

Six-year-old Lyla O’Donovan has undergone eight brain operations in her short life and may need another one.

Lyla O'Donovan (right) with her best friend Evie Flounders who travelled from Devon.

Lyla O'Donovan (right) with her best friend Evie Flounders who travelled from Devon.

The risk to her of another operation is so great that Lyla’s doctors have encouraged dad Paul, a soldier from Hartlepool, and mum Kirsty to make as many memories as they can with her.

Lyla and her family have a list of things they want to achieve this year, and one of them was to be a bridesmaid.

It came true at the weekend when Paul, 34, and Kirsty, 32, renewed their vows in Durham, close to where the family now live.

Lyla wore a pretty dress and sparkly tiara and read out her own moving speech during the ceremony.

In it she said: “You are always there to give me a hug, there to comfort me if I am sad or to love me if I need it.

“Love from your little princess Lyla.”

Paul, who serves with The Rifles regiment, and Kirsty, who is mum to their six children, first tied the knot in December 2004.

Paul said: “Lyla always looks at our wedding pictures in the house and always said she wanted to be a bridesmaid.

“We had always said she might be for friends or family when she is older but she said: ‘I wanted to be your bridesmaid’.

“When she had her last operation in September we came up with these things we plan to do this year.

“Seeing her in her dress and walking in with Kirsty it was really emotional.

“We are just so glad we have done it.”

Lyla had emergency surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumour in 2016 but has had a number of health problems to contend with since, such as seizures, and also meningitis.

Doctors are keeping a close watch on her condition as part of her brain stem is fused with scar tissue from her earlier operations, potentially posing a serious risk to her life as her body grows.

She suffers frequent seizures and tires easily.

Other goals the family is determined to achieve this year are for Lyla to be nominated for the Pride of Britain Awards and to go to Disneyland.

Paul added: “It is only February and we have already done one of them so we are ahead of the game.”