A SIX-YEAR-OLD who was struck by a brain injury last Christmas has hit new heights after the Oxford Children's Hospital took him indoor skydiving

Dexter Harvey-Rice, from Southmoor near Abingdon, joined nine other youngsters for the adrenaline-filled activity which seeks to mimic the experience of a real parachute jump.

It was a long way from his experience this time last year, when he developed a tumour on the top of his spine.

Within days of seeing doctors the youngster was whisked to hospital for a five-and-a-half hour operation and he remained in hospital on Christmas Day.

His mum, Julia Harvey-Rice, said: "Towards the end of last November we started noticing Dexter was walking funny.

"He would drag his right foot and held his hand at a funny angle, but when we asked him to stop he could.

"Then about two weeks later his teacher invited me in and said it didn’t quite look right, and maybe we should take him to the doctors.

"So, I made appointment for a Monday afternoon and by the Tuesday they had referred us to the John Radcliffe Hospital, by the afternoon he had his MRI scan and we had the devastating news that he had a spinal tumour pushing on the base of his skull."

The tumour was affecting Dexter's right side and Mrs Harvey-Rice said he was put through as an emergency operation the next day.

She added: "It all happened so fast, it was unbelievable.

"They said had we not taken him in when we did he probably wouldn’t have been around by Christmas, he probably would have just fallen asleep and never woken up.

"The Oxford Children’s Hospital was phenomenal, I can’t express our gratitude enough."

The operation removed Dexter's tumour and it was found to be benign, but despite the speedy actions from Oxford's Children's Hospital, based at the JR site, the youngster required treatment in hospital from December 7 through to December 29.

This year Dexter is looking forward to spending Christmas at home.

He was given an early treat from the team at the hospital, which saw him take off for an indoor skydive.

Children’s neuro-rehabilitation physiotherapist and keen skydiver, Carol Beaumont, thought the children she worked with would love to experience the freedom and thrill of the activity.

Ten children with brain injuries were taken to the iFly centre in Milton Keynes on November 5, thanks to funding from the Frenkel Topping foundation.

The children, aged between five and 16 , have all received neuro-rehabilitation at the Children’s Hospital over recent years for brain injuries.

Mrs Harvey-Rice added: "It was an amazing day and Dexter loved every minute.

"It was a lovely experience for kids who have been through so much, and we are so proud of Dexter and grateful he had the chance to do it."

"Dexter is getting stronger every day, he is our little super star, and has never once moaned or groaned.

"I think it is going to haunt us a little bit as this time last year was just devastating, but we are so thankful every day that he is still with us.

"We will be eternally grateful."