HIGHLAND HEROES: Little Gracie's win has given her so much confidence
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
Highland Heroes brave child of the year Gracie Andrew is literally going from strength to strength.
The six-year-old from Invergordon who has hip dysplasia had her latest appointment with her consultant at Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity last Tuesday (October 24).
Delighted mum Katie Winston said: "Gracie’s check up went really well. We were told her hip has never looked stronger and everything is growing where it needs to be.
"She’ll be having the metalwork removed next year."
Once the family have a date for that then Gracie will be getting on her bike to do a fundraising cycle for the hospital as her own special way of saying thank you.
Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip socket does not fully cover the ball portion of the upper thigh bone, causing the hip joint to become partially or completely dislocated.
Gracie was recognised as one of the region’s unsung heroes at a celebration in Inverness earlier this year.
Around 300 people attended at the Drumossie Hotel for the annual Highland Heroes event – staged by Highland News and Media to recognise those amongst us who are real-life heroes.
One of the most heart-warming moments of the night was when Gracie invited fellow finalists in the brave child category – Alfie Ross and Gracey Wemyss – on stage to hold the trophy with her.
It really did encapsulate the spirit of what the event is all about.
Collecting the award has given Gracie's confidence a huge boost.
Katie said: "Winning the award was an incredible confidence boost for her, whenever Gracie tries something new she will recite to herself 'I can do this, I’m Gracie the Brave Child'.
"The award has given her more opportunities to talk about hip dysplasia as she has been recognised out and about."
And she is getting out and about ever more – including a wonderful trip to the Belladrum Music Festival in the summer – Gracie, Alfie and Gracey and their families all received tickets for the region's musical highlight of the year as prizes.
Katie said: "Gracie has had an action-packed few months – taking up horse-riding; she has gone camping and rock-climbing and even caught her first fish.
"She has mastered some tricks on her quad bike.
"We had an amazing time at Belladrum and were so grateful to be gifted the tickets."
Gracie, who turns seven in December, has had five surgeries on her hip since the age of 18 months.
She has spent long periods of time in a spica cast from her belly button to her ankle.
But the Newmore Primary School pupil has never once let this get her down or stop her.
She has faced it all head on, even as she has become older and more aware of everything and she is always keen to educate others on hip dysplasia.
Drawing on her own experiences, Gracie goes out of her way to make sure no-one else feels sad or left out in social situations.
Highland Heroes judges agreed that she is an inspiration to all who know her.
One of those who nominated Gracie last year said: “She is an incredible inspiration and deserves some recognition for what she has been through in her little life.”
2024's Highland Heroes awards are now open for entries.
The closing date for nominations is December 17.
All shortlisted Heroes will be invited to a night of celebration at the Drumossie Hotel on Friday 15th March, next year.