Leicester Mercury

WHEN ROSIE MET REUBEN...

‘I truly believe he was sent to me’: How this remarkably friendly robin has helped a woman through a traumatic year

- By FINVOLA DUNPHY finvola.dunphy@reachplc.com @finvoladun­phy

A WOMAN has formed an “incredible bond” with a robin which has helped her through a “year of trauma”.

Rosie Lee-Smith said she was on the verge of a breakdown after her mum and other family members became ill, she lost her job and her beloved pet cat died - all during a global pandemic.

At her worst, Rosie messaged her brother in the early hours of the morning to say she could not go on.

But not long after that awful day, Rosie was walking her dogs when a robin began to dive at her.

When she walked the same route the next day, the bird was there once more, and again seemed to take a particular interest in her.

It was the start of an unlikely friendship between Rosie and the robin, which she calls Reuben.

“I truly believe he’s been sent to me, and the implicit way he trusts me is incredible,” Rosie, from Mountsorre­l, said.

In February this year, the 58-yearold reached breaking point and was overwhelme­d with anxiety.

She said: “At the time, I wasn’t sleeping, which made the anxiety worse.

“Everything was going through my mind at 1,000 miles per hour and there were days when I don’t even know how I functioned.

“At 4 o’clock one morning, I messaged my brother who lives miles away to say I can’t do this. I can’t go on like this.”

A long conversati­on with her brother gave her a new perspectiv­e, and she became determined to overcome her crippling worries.

Rosie has been a passionate photograph­er for 14 years and decided there and then that she was going to make the most of lockdown.

She has dyspraxia, a brainbased motor disorder which she says has helped to give her the determinat­ion to carry on, no matter what. “It makes things really difficult because I struggle to read and follow things,” she said.

“I have to work harder than most in everything I do. I’m determined not to let it hold me back so I put a lot of pressure on myself to work harder.”

With this vim and vigour, Rosie decided to go out every day and practise her photograph­y.

She first discovered the robin on a winter walk in 2020, but it was later the following year when the bird truly became her closest confidant.

The robin dived at Rosie when she was walking her usual route near her home on a morning in December.

She said: “I was just walking my two dogs and I noticed this little robin. It kept diving at me and I thought, ‘How strange.’

“I was quite fascinated by him, so I went again the next day and he was there and came to me again.”

She decided to try to get some pictures of the eager bird. “At first I thought, ‘Wow - this is amazing,’ and just thought I would take the opportunit­y as a chance to practise my skills as I have never got close to a bird like that before.

“We kind of had a trade-off. I would feed him and he’d just pose for the camera and let me take his picture.

“So after that, I went every single day and now sometimes I go two to three times a day through snow, wind and rain.

“As time went on, he started to recognise my car and when he saw it, he would sit in the hedge and wait for me.

“When I got out of my car, we would walk together over a bridge to the brook and then I would feed him.

“In February when things got really bad, I would sit there on a little bridge with tears streaming down my face talking to him, telling him about everything and his little head would cock to the side as if he was listening and he would sing.”

Rosie’s anxiety started to intensify when she lost her job when the shop where she worked closed.

She said: “We always knew the store was going to close but we had the possibilit­y of moving to another one - then lockdown happened and plans were changed.”

Following this, Rosie’s mum became ill and she has dedicated most her time to care for her.

She said: “My mum is in heart failure and has a host of other problems. Going back to work has become really difficult because I now care for her.”

Around the same time, Rosie’s beloved cat, 20-year-old Mrs Bumble, died in her arms after being run over by a car.

Other members of Rosie’s family became ill around the same time and coupled with anxiety, the effects of lockdown and grief, she was struggling to cope - until Reuben became her confidant.

Rosie said the friendship she has formed with the robin is just like the one she had with her cat.

I was quite fascinated by him, so I went again the next day and he came to me again

Rosie Lee-Smith on Reuben

“I know it’s strange but people do say this about robins - I truly believe he’s been sent to me and and it’s a bond just like I had with Mrs Bumble,” she said.

“I want to get across that nature is a real gift to us all - if you go out there and discover it, it’s healing and therapeuti­c.”

Rosie now writes poetry dedicated to Reuben.

One reads: “It matters not the time of day, nor the day of the week. Whether there be rain, wind or snow, for you know my little friend I will come.”

 ??  ?? ‘THE IMPLICIT WAY HE TRUSTS ME IS INCREDIBLE’: Rosie Lee-Smith, of Mountsorre­l, said she was on the verge of a breakdown before a friendly robin hopped into her life
‘THE IMPLICIT WAY HE TRUSTS ME IS INCREDIBLE’: Rosie Lee-Smith, of Mountsorre­l, said she was on the verge of a breakdown before a friendly robin hopped into her life
 ??  ?? WATCH THE BIRDIE: Reuben the robin. ‘We kind of had a trade-off. I would feed him and he’d just pose for the camera and let me take his picture,’ says Rosie
WATCH THE BIRDIE: Reuben the robin. ‘We kind of had a trade-off. I would feed him and he’d just pose for the camera and let me take his picture,’ says Rosie
 ??  ?? MAKING FRIENDS: Reuben has also bonded with Rosie’s mum
MAKING FRIENDS: Reuben has also bonded with Rosie’s mum

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