Deaf Reuben gets out-of-this-world grades and is off to Durham University

A Coleriane teenager who suffered hearing loss after contracting meningitis at three-years-old has achieved 4 A* in his A-levels and a place at university.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 12:44 pm

Reuben Tosh (18) from Knocklynn Park received top marks in physics, chemistry, digital technology and maths last month and is heading to Durham University this Friday to study a Masters Degree in Physics.

Reuben’s parents, Ian and Rhonda are extremely proud of his achievements despite being at ‘deaths door’ when he was a toddler.
Rhonda explained: “In November 2006 our world turned up-side down. Reuben wasn’t well and was ultimately diagnosed with meningitis. He was only 3 1/2 years old. Fighting for his life, he was put into a semi-coma for 11 days, he was at death’s door. However on the 10th day he showed signs of recovery as his daily blood count was going up. We just couldn’t believe it, he wasn’t ready to give up and his body was fighting back.
“The meningitis affected his left eye, left leg and the left side of his throat and deaf in both ears. He came out of Causeway hospital in December after two weeks, and knew it was going to be a long road ahead, but he was alive. He’d gone into hospital weighing 2stone 2lbs and he left weighing just one stone.”
Since then Reuben has had various operations yet has continued his fight in all aspects of his life, learning to lip read and enjoying badminton and sea fishing. He has also channelled his energy into his education, attending Millburn Primary in Coleraine and later Dominican College in Portstewart.
Ian, who is self-employed, continued: “Reuben’s education was important to us and we didn’t want him attending a special school. Thankfully he got the chance to go to Millburn Primary School thanks to Rhonda’s discussions with John Platt, the headmaster at the time.
“Rhonda has ME (chronic fatigue syndrome) and finds life tough, but we put our heart and soul into his rehabilitation. It took nine months for him to get his strength up and it was a very proud moment to see him walk through the doors of Millburn the following September.
“On his first day, Reuben met his teacher Mr McClean, it was his first day too. And it was thanks to Mr McClean and his one-to-one teacher, Alice McCartney that Reuben had the best start to his education. He was top of his class in P5, P6 and P7. He just took our breath away.
“It was the same in Dominican College. He would come home at 3.45pm, study, down for his tea at 5.30pm, back up to do his homework at 6.15pm and that was him until 7/8pm. He was so committed and determined to succeed. And it’s thanks to this hard work and his secondary school classroom assistant Jenny Mathewson and his one-to-one Mrs Harte that he was named top achiever in his year, getting 4A’s in physics, chemistry, digital technology and maths at AS-Levels and then 4A* in his recent A-Levels.”
Not sure on his future career, modest Reuben is hoping to combine his love of physics and space. 
Ian added: “He’s homely, but he just can’t wait to go to Durham. He’s already signed up for the four year Masters degree in Physics and he’s hoping to do a PHD afterwards. He always loved reading and space so it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets a career with NASA or something to do with space.
“Rhonda and I are beside ourselves about him going but his step-brother is in Newcastle so he’s not too far away. And we’ll be over to see him loads.
“From the little boy who was so seriously ill to the man he has become, Reuben is a real inspiration, and his mum and I could not be any prouder.”
The Tosh family would like to thank John Platt, Millburn Primary School, Dominican College, The National Deaf Children’s Society, Leslie Greeky and everyone who has supported Reuben on his journey so far.
Helen Ferguson, the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Head of Policy for Northern Ireland, said: “On behalf of everyone here at the National Deaf Children’s Society, I’d like to offer Reuben my congratulations on his a-level results. Four A-stars is a truly towering achievement, so very well done.
“Deafness is not a learning disability, so there’s absolutely no reason why deaf pupils should not be able to achieve just the same as their hearing classmates, given the right support. Reuben is proof of that.
“The National Deaf Children’s Society will keep on fighting for the rights of deaf children across Northern Ireland to receive appropriate support. We want every deaf child to have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”
If anyone wants any help or support with issues around childhood deafness, our website is www.ndcs.org.uk and we have a freephone Helpline 0808 800 8880.

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Reuben Tosh in his Dominican College uniform

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Reuben with his proud parents Rhonda and Ian

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