A dedicated youngster has been given a special gift from Santa for the way she helps her little sister understand the world.
Marni-Rae Bell, 10, from Rodin Avenue, South Shields, is the runner up in our annual Dear Santa competition for the way she cares for her little sister Tia Bell, four, who is non-verbal.
As the author of one of the winning letters, the sisters will now share a £50 Argos voucher - thanks to Kathryn Savage the owner of Caffe Mio at the Nook - as a reward for their courage.
Tia’s condition means that she is only able to say a few words and communicates through hand signals and writing.
She is undergoing therapy to learn how to speak, but is helped hugely by her big sister Marni-Rae who helps her to write and draw.
The inspirational youngster, who attends St Oswalds school, is also battling anxiety - but still makes sure she is there for when her sister Tia needs her. Their mum Lisa Bell, 39, says she is so proud of her daughters and praised their special bond.
She said: “Tia is very clever, but she just hasn’t got the words. “She was diagnosed as being non-verbal and is undergoing therapy to learn how to speak but Marni-Rae is so understanding and helps her to write and draw.” She added: “She is very hands on with her sister and Tia is getting better.
“They have a special bond and were even born on the same day!”
In her letter Marni-Rae said her sister would love a baby and a pram for Christmas and her Lisa says Marni-Rae is also deserving of a special treat.
Lisa, a full-time mum added: “They have their moments as sisters do, but Marni-Rae is always willing to help her sister.
“Marni-Rae is in year six at school and is academic, but suffers from anxiety.
“However she overcomes this to help Tia and I just thought she deserved recognition for her efforts.
“She is really chuffed to have won and it shows that we appreciate what she does.
“I am very proud of them both and Marni-Rae is a diamond.”