Like many other parents in the Steps Charity Worldwide community, York-based jeweller and business owner, Kay Bradley, felt isolated as a new mum navigating her son’s lower limb condition. She tells us: “My three-year-old son, Rupert, has bilateral talipes and is treated at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Rupert is a pioneer in this country as he is one of the only children in the UK who has had Ponseti treatment, tenotomy and has been undergoing private treatment with the Cunningham Brace since October 2018. He is yet to complete his treatment plan, but so far so good.”
It wasn’t always smooth for Rupert and his parents, though. An early operation went tragically wrong, and the family sought an alternative route when Rupert could not tolerate boots and bars. Upon searching for a specialist, Kay and her husband found Denise Watson, an Extended Scope Physiotherapist in Paediatric Orthopaedics at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who they describe as their “saving grace”. With over sixteen years’ experience at Great Ormond Street Hospital in clubfoot and lower limb conditions, Denise was able to give hope to us all and Rupert had a second operation in London with regular visits from York to London for ongoing treatment for his condition.
Kay and her husband decided to treat the day and night time bracing with an alternative, private method – The Cunningham Brace which is customised for him and made in America by Gerald Cunningham. Rupert visits Sam Walmsley, his specialist Orthotist at London Orthotics Consultancy where he has been undergoing treatment since October 2018. He is currently wearing his fifth leg brace which he now only wears at night time. Sam has also played a pivotal role in Rupert’s treatment and has catered for his treatment with upmost tenderness and care. Rupert continues to grow strong and be active young, little boy as other three-year-olds his age.
Being able to give back to the community that has supported her, Kay came to Steps Charity Worldwide with an exciting proposal. Her plan was to create a capsule collection of precious jewellery pieces – named Twinkle Toes – inspired by the journey her son and many others are on. She’s used all her connections and skills as a bespoke jeweller to bring each creation to life and part of the proceeds from the sale of these designs will go to Steps Charity Worldwide and to The Miscarriage Association.
She says: “It was important to me that this be a non-profit, charitable collection that really comes from my heart and home to yours. I have created a disc pendant, heart-shaped locket, and a foot-shaped charm set with diamonds and multi-coloured stones. These are lovely and personal pieces for everyday and I hope you will feel inspired and comforted when you wear them.”
When she’s not designing and making jewellery for her bespoke customers and the Bradley’s Jewellers store on Low Petergate in York, Kay is writing a children’s story that seeks to address the small daily trials and tribulations that can come with lower limb conditions.
“I want to raise awareness and help other parents and families alike. I feel the emotional struggle is sometimes not recognised. In my children’s book, I share Rupert’s clubfoot journey so far. The book is designed to help children and families alike, assure them that following guidelines and wearing night time bracing is essential to overcoming treatment for clubfoot. Each piece of Twinkle
Toes jewellery sold will also receive a complimentary copy of Kay’s book ‘Twinkle Toes’ which will be illustrated and printed by local York artists.
Kay is now feeling ready to share her experiences and use her young son’s medical journey as inspiration for this sentimental jewellery collection. She continues: “I know there may be other parents and individuals out there who are suffering behind closed doors or bottling up their feelings out of fear, stress, anxiety or a myriad other reasons. I hope this collection adds a little bit of hope and light in these darker moments.”
Today, Rupert is a happy and active little boy and has seen “incredible results” with the treatment and support he has received so far. Much of this optimism for the future in the Bradley household is channelled into Kay’s jewellery collection and expressed through the diamonds and multi-coloured gemstones the pieces contain along with her signature Twinkle Toes feet and Rainbow Hope logo on the reverse of each and every piece.
Kay says: “My goal is to give something back to the clubfoot community and all those who have experienced childhood lower limb conditions. Hopefully this new collection is a small ‘step’ in that direction.”