85-year-old back on her feet after losing a leg and battling cancer.

AN 85-year-old is defying the odds and learning to walk again after battling cancer, losing her leg and spending a year in hospital.

Rita Newton from Braunton has displayed an extraordinary fighting spirit to come back from an ordeal that might break someone of any age.

But she is now making great strides thanks to her new prosthetic leg and with help from staff and residents at Tyspane Care Centre.

It was feared Rita might never walk again, as during her stay in hospital she needed eight major operations, which included three amputations to her left leg.

“I thought I’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life,” said Rita, who can now be seen around the village on her electric scooter after being able to go shopping for the first time for more than a year.

Her indomitable spirit has carried her through more than just illness, with four family bereavements, with the recent loss of her two sisters plus the unexpected tragic deaths of grandson Ben and great grand daughter Billie Rose.

“We are so proud of her,” said Rita’s son Roy, 65.

“When she was in hospital there were times when we thought she was not going to make it, with eight major operations under general anaesthetic.

“We visit every other day and she has been much stronger, she really wants to get in her electric scooter and start visiting people in Braunton – there’s no tying her down, she wants to get out.”

Tyspane’s general manager, Andy Kirby isn’t surprised at her progress: “She’s an amazing lady and she’s got an incredible fighting spirit. There’s no way she’ll let life get her down. We are all really impressed with her.”

The lady herself couldn’t agree more and takes everything in her stride, with characteristic good humour and a complete disregard for her physical disabilities.

“I’m always laughing and joking about having my leg off,” said Rita. “I love it here, and it’s great to start to feel independent again.”

Rita has lived in Braunton for many years and was born in Ireland, moving to England when she was 12. Her first husband Eric died aged 48 and most North Devonians will know her as the partner of well known local man Horace Pickard.