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PALS' KITCHEN; Gordon Ramsay reveals amazing g friendship with Scots buddy Beau as little hero battles spina bifida.

Byline: DONNA WHITE

ONE is a force of nature, a formidable character who refuses to let anything stand in his way. The other is his best pal Gordon Ramsay.

Seven-year-old Beau Rendall is firm friends with the fiery chef, who has been amazed by his spirit and courage in living with spina bifida.

The pair have been mates since Beau was just two, when Gordon became honorary patron of the Scottish Spina Bifida Association.

And as he gears up to host this year's gala dinner in aid of the charity, the Hell's Kitchen star paid a special tribute to Beau.

Gordon said: "Beau is quite a character. Last time I saw him he was recovering from an operation.

"I am always touched by the love, positivity and support of his family too. The Rendalls are incredibly close and always full of fun.

"No one knows how they would cope with a disability unless they are in that position.

"I only hope I would be as brave and inspirational as Beau and the other kids I have met through the SSBA."

While most of us know Gordon as the tough-talking celebrity chef who makes grown men cry, to young Beau he's just a pal who visits him and plays games.

Mum Tracy said: "Beau sees Gordon on TV and can hardly believe that's his friend.

"He took this man on face value and got along with him incredibly well. When he learned later that he was a celebrity, he couldn't believe it.

"He's proud to tell his friends when he's off to see him but he's not at all phased by the fact Gordon's famous."

Like 3000 others in Scotland, Beau, from Craigentinny, Edinburgh, is living with a condition called a "split spine".

At some stage of Tracy's pregnancy, one or more of his vertebrae failed to close properly around his spinal cord, causing a huge defect in his back.

Born with no sensation below the waist, Beau had his first operation at just a day old. A week later he had a tube placed into his brain to drain fluid which could not pass down his spine.

And he faces much more surgery as his body continues to grow.

But Beau doesn't let that stop him from having fun and can often be found chasing his sisters Meg, nine, and Jos, five, or wrestling with eight-year-old brother Fin - and winning.

Tracy, 43, said: "The family can be very protective of Beau but at the same time he doesn't get treated any differently.

"He's in a wheelchair and will never walk but he's discovered he can pull himself along the floor by his arms, commando-style, very quickly.

"He joins in with all the fun and games in our house."

To improve his posture, Beau has to be strapped upright into a special "standing platform" before undergoing intensive physiotherapy on his legs.

And because of his condition, he takes laxatives and antibiotics to treat a range of bowel and bladder problems.

Tracy was 20 weeks' pregnant when a routine scan alerted doctors to the condition but there was nothing they could do about it until he was born.

She said: "It was frightening and a lot to take in because we had no idea what spina bifida was. Many people don't until they are affected by it."

Dad Stuart, 45, who runs the family kitchen company, was torn when doctors asked to decide whether they wanted to continue with the pregnancy.

Tracy said: "He didn't want to think of his child living a life of pain."

But when the SSBA arranged for them to see a specialist, the decision became easier.

Tracy added: "With more information, we came to realise that things weren't as hopeless as we'd feared. We just had to take everything one step at a time."

A crowd of medical staff were in the room to welcome Beau into the world after a natural delivery at Simpson's Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh.

Tracy said: "He looked like a normal baby until you turned him over and saw a big gaping hole in his back."

Within 24 hours surgeons had cut into Beau's back in order to fix the deformation and prevent any infection from spreading.

They realised that, like 80 per cent of other people with the condition, he was also suffering from hydrocephalus.

It's a condition where the fluid in the brain overflows as it cannot be passed from the brain down through the spine to be dispersed in the bloodstream.

More surgery followed to fix it. The fluid now gets passed down through a tube out of his head and runs into his body, where it disperses safely.

When he gets older, doctors may have to lengthen the tube, which he'll have for the rest of his life.

A cheeky, charming boy, Beau makes people smile wherever he goes. He loves drawing, doing crafts and using building blocks.

It's exactly what he bullies Gordon into doing when they meet at the support centre in Cumbernauld, near Glasgow, which the chef helped to fundraise for with the Buy A Brick appeal.

Tracy said: "Beau collars Gordon and makes him muck in with all the kids, playing games and having fun.

"There's no standing-on ceremony. Beau just calls him over and gets him involved."

As the SSBA prepare for their annual gala dinner, which Gordon heads every year, these two great friends are hoping to meet up again.

Along with his wife Tana, the F Word star always attends the mini gala dinner before the main event.

And Beau is hoping to be among those attending.

This year's fundraiser, at the Glasgow Science Centre on October 21, promises to the best yet, with live entertainment and celebrity guests.

A glitzy gastronomic feast will be laid on by four of Scotland's top award-winning chefs, chosen by Gordon himself.

Tracy said: "Tana always remembers Beau and his brother and sisters.

"She recalls all of their names. I guess because she and Gordon have four children too, she knows how important it is not to miss anyone out.

"Gordon and Tana are always nice and polite to the adults - but you can tell they've come to see the kids and catch up. That's what they love."

But despite the schmoozing involved in his work for the charity, Beau knows there's nothing his pal Gordon would rather do than get out the building blocks and spend some time with him.

SUNDAY EMAIL reporters@sundaymail.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Close family: Stuart, Tracy and Beau, right, and with Meg, Fin, and Jos, left
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 26, 2010
Words:1098
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