She could hardly walk a year ago, but just look at her now - Hartlepool girl Dottie O’Keefe's incredible journey continues to reach new heights

Simply stunning. That’s Hartlepool youngster Dottie O’Keefe whose incredible journey continues to reach new heights a year after she had a life-changing operation on her spine.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 8:08 am

The five-year-old who has cerebral palsy could hardly walk before she had five hours of surgery in March last year.

But now – for the first time – she is walking with just one walking stick.

And there’s even better news as she has taken a first few steps completely on her own, in private.

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Dottie O’Keefe could hardly walk a year ago, but just look at her now.

Proud mum Helen Noon said: “It was a bit of a shock but recently, Dottie began taking a few steps on her own. I managed to hold back the tears but they were there.”

Dottie’s life was changed forever when she underwent the operation called a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) at Leeds General Infirmary, and impressed everyone who knew her with her amazing fightback after it.

Soon after surgery, she could walk several steps with just a tripod stick in one hand.

Now – around 18 months later – there’s even better news and her Helen said: “When she is feeling confident she will take a few steps.”

Dottie O'Keefe who has made such huge progress since an operation in March last year.

But even when she’s not walking unaided, Dottie is still progressing amazingly.

“She only needs one walking stick,” said Helen. “She is doing really well. She still goes to physio. She takes everything in her stride. She will try anything.”

Dottie’s operation was made possible thanks to a £35,000 operation that kind Hartlepool supporters helped to pay for.

She developed cerebral palsy after she was born 15 weeks early and suffered a severe bleed on her brain.

Dottie O'Keefe who can now walk with one stick.

She was only 1lb 9ozs when she came into the world and had to overcome meningitis in the first months of her life.

Dottie’s inspiring story and incredible progress won her a Child of Courage trophy at last year’s Best of Hartlepool Awards and Helen looked back on a very special night.

“It was a lovely evening and Dottie was over the moon that she got an award.

“She went up to collect it herself and I was quite surprised because she is normally quite shy.”

Amazing Dottie at this year's Miles for Men day.

That trophy now has pride of place on the fireplace at the family home and it looks like it won’t be moving any time soon.

Mum explained: “Dottie won’t let me move it!”

Helen praised the evening for the way it brought together lots of inspirational people from all walks of Hartlepool and East Durham life. “It was nice to see everyone’s achievement,” she said.

“Everyone is different and sometimes, you don’t hear of other people’s stories.”

Now the search begins for this year’s nominations and we want to hear about the wonderful causes out there which are worthy of recognition.

It’s your chance to give those very special unsung heroes the praise they so richly deserve.

Last year's Best of Hartlepool Awards winners. Who will succeed them?

Don’t worry about puzzling over which category to enter your nomination in - we’ve got loads for you to choose from. Take a look at the list below and choose the right one for your community favourite.

In fact, put as many nominations in as you like as we are sure there are loads of worthy causes out there.

Let’s make this a hugely difficult task for the judges by coming up with a glut of entries.

The deadline for entries is Monday, November 11 with judges meeting to draw up the shortlists on Wednesday, November 13.

And then comes the grand finale which will be held at Hardwick Hall on Wednesday, December 4.

But first, get those nominations in. Send them by email to [email protected]

Here are the categories to choose from;

Role Model;

Green Champion;

Child of Achievement;

Fundraiser of the Year;

Carer of the Year;

Student of the Year;

Sporting Excellence;

Volunteer of the Year;

Community Group;

Community Champion;

Child of Courage;

Sports Team of the Year;

Emergency Services Award;

Performer of the Year (under 21);

Lifetime Contribution.

If you are nominating or entering the Young Performer of the Year category, remember to send us a video of the nominated person performing.

Our thanks go to this year’s sponsors for their invaluable support and they include Stagecoach North East, Specsavers, English Martyrs, Northern School of Arts and Hartlepool Borough Council.