Meet Rhiann – gymnast, fundraiser and star baker!

Meet Rhiann – GOSH patient, gymnastics whizz and fundraising star! Her mum Rowena shares the story of Rhiann’s time at GOSH and how their family came together to host an amazing bake sale in support of the hospital!

“Rhiann had gone to school as normal in the morning, and I don’t recall her complaining of anything or not feeling well. I had a phone call just after lunch to say she’d been sick and that she was complaining of having a headache. I went to the school and by the time I got there, she had deteriorated quite rapidly.”

“The local hospital told me to take Rhiann to A&E, which was incredibly busy. Her headaches continued to get worse, but as the hospital couldn’t find anything physically wrong with her, they wanted to send her home.”

A shocking diagnosis

“I asked for further checks, and she had a scan in the early hours of the morning – that’s when we were told something had been found on her brain. We were taken by ambulance to GOSH, and we met the neurological team at the hospital. They sat us down and explained everything, including Rhiann’s diagnosis - an ‘AVM’ on her brain, which is a very rare and serious condition involving a tangle of blood vessels with abnormal connections between arteries and veins.”

“The AVM was on the left cerebellum - the area of the brain that affects coordination - which is ironic as Rhiann does a lot of gymnastics and had qualified as an individual and a group gymnast for the British Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships for her age group. Rhian was very upset, she had questions about whether she’d be able to go back to gymnastics. We had to try and keep her hopes up.”

Rhiann responded well to her initial treatment but became unwell again in summer 2017, requiring pioneering gamma knife stereotactic radiosurgery to fully tackle the AVM. “I think that becoming poorly again really affected her, and she became disheartened - she thought she was better and all of a sudden she had to go through it all again, which was quite traumatic.”

Time at GOSH

“The whole team at GOSH were fantastic, and really supported Rhiann. There was a chef in the catering team called Wilson who saw her every morning, he made her smile, and encouraged her to eat to get her strength up. 

“Suzanne in the play team on Koala ward arranged lots of lovely things for her and helped her while she was on the ward. She was a big part of Rhiann’s recovery. The nurses were great, as were the consultants – everyone at GOSH was just fantastic, not just for Rhiann, but in the way they supported all of us.”

Rhiann and her brother Finley

“At first, Rhiann’s younger brother Finley (pictured above) was quite taken back, but he really enjoyed spending time in Rhiann’s room at GOSH, and he had a lot of fun in the play room on Koala ward too!”

Rhiann's bake sale

“As we were leaving the hospital after Rhiann’s initial treatment, she noticed the Bake it Better posters and decided she wanted to take part. She was so excited!”

“Rhiann held her bake sale at her school which I thought was really brave, because she’d had quite a few weeks off, and hadn’t really been back properly since she was taken ill there. She organised everything herself, she made sweetie cones to sell alongside the cakes and organised raffle prizes too. A family friend is a professional baker, so she baked cakes for us to sell. Our family and friends really pulled together to show their support. In total, Rhiann raised over £1,000. I thought it was incredible after everything she’d been through. She's organised a bake sale at her school this year too, which will take place during Bake it Better week!”

Looking ahead

“Rhiann’s doing much better now, she’s just qualified for the English Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, her dream is to compete at the Championships again this year.”

“She’s starting senior school in September, and she’s really looking forward to that. Going back into her current school every day has been hard for Rhiann because that’s where she was first taken ill. Going to the new school will be a fresh start. 

“Great Ormond Street did save Rhiann’s life, and she’s able to continue with gymnastics which is her dream. Without GOSH, Rhian wouldn’t be where she is now. We’d be looking at a completely different story.”

Get your bake on and support vital care for kids like Rhiann at GOSH. Sign up today to host a bake sale this May and we’ll send you a marvellous baking bundle to support your fundraising.

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