A MUSSELBURGH mum-of-two who cheated death several times after contracting life-threatening sepsis a year ago was back enjoying her love of art at Campie Primary School, which is celebrating its centenary in 2019.

Brave Ruth Quilietti-Bird – who at one point was the most ill person “in the whole of the UK”, according to her husband Mark – moved hospital several times to receive specialist treatment for multiple organ failure, spending her 40th birthday in intensive care rather than on a planned holiday.

She had both her feet amputated after they suffered tissue damage due to sepsis – a serious complication of an infection.

It was also feared at one point that Ruth, who taught art at Knox Academy in Haddington and Preston Lodge High School, Prestonpans, might lose her hands.

She recovered at the Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh, where she got used to her newly fitted prosthetic legs with the aid of physiotherapists.

Ruth worked as regional art teacher for Musselburgh in local primary schools and, before becoming critically ill, had just accepted a new post with Computer Xplorers, delivering IT skills to primary schoolchildren at Campie’s after school club.

She was delighted to be back at the school recently, where she is leading an art project to decorate a shipping container for the school’s new loose parts play facility, which was officially opened by Councillor Stuart Currie, chairman of the Musselburgh Common Good Fund Committee, which provided the funding.

Ruth, whose daughters eight-year-old Lucia and Isabella, aged five, are pupils at Campie, said: “Being able to do this one year on from my sepsis is very special to me. It has surprised everyone, not least of all me, how far I have come in such a short space of time.

“It was important for me to be able to give something back to the school community that has helped my family so much through this hard time.

“I had a great team of people helping, who were able to reach the bits I couldn’t and kept going when I was getting too tired.”

Her design, inspired by the styles of illustrator and children’s book writer Liz Pichon and artist Keith Haring, incorporates lots of ideas that were presented by the schoolchildren.

Musselburgh artist Toby Larner will be adding one of his well-known robot graphics and the project is also being supported by parent helper Davie Morrison, a local graffiti artist.

The family have had to move from their New Street home, which had an outside staircase, to a more suitable property on North High Street.

Friend Jacqueline Campbell launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £20,000 to help fund a mobility scooter and adapt the new home. So far, nearly £14,000 has been raised.

The family is currently living in temporary accommodation and will soon be starting building work to their recently purchased home. The ground floor property requires substantial adaptations such as ramp access, layout changes, kitchen extension/redesign and wet room to allow wheelchair access.

Another friend, Kirrie Walsh, described Ruth as “a powerhouse”, working on the container artwork for eight hours in cold weather.

She said: “Whilst she is doing admirably well and is making incredible progress in re-learning to walk with her prosthetic legs, she also needs legs-free or legless, as she jokingly calls it, time for relaxation and comfort.

“Her positivity, good humour and downright gusto attitude to this life-changing circumstance is nothing short of remarkable. She has just been amazing.”

Tansy Main, vice-chairman of the parent council, said: “We want to maximise opportunities for the children to learn and have fun through creative and imaginative play and to encourage physical activity for all ages,.

“The excitement and buzz in the playground was fantastic and it was wonderful to watch the children from every year group have fun, and using their imagination with the loose parts.”

Mr Currie said: “I was so pleased to open the new loose parts play facility at Campie, especially because 44 years ago I had stood in the same playground for my P1 class photograph.

“The whole school was out in force with much excitement. Whilst the Common Good helped, the real difference was the dedication of the parent council working with parents and the school for the benefit of the children.”

To support Ruth, go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ruthq-b