Bassingbourn singer Heather speaks out about spinal condition which threatened singing dream – as she pushes for Cambridge radio chart number 1 as Camden Ruston
PUBLISHED: 17:30 11 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:06 14 August 2017
A Bassingbourn teenager who was diagnosed with a confidence-shattering spinal condition as a child has overcome her struggles to pursue her singing dream.
At the age of 12 Heather Hort developed scoliosis, which caused her backbone to curve at a 95 degree angle over the course of one winter.
Just before the condition took hold, she developed a love of music and singing – and a passion that has never left her.
The 19-year-old told the Crow: “I was quite shy, but started singing in my bedroom. Only my brother Ben heard me because I shared the room with him, and he told my parents.
“Around that time I developed back problems, which I still have, but I needed operations.
“At school I stood out. I had to wear different clothes to everyone else, and I was really lacking in confidence.”
After two operations at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge – which involved titanium rods being screwed to her spine and the removal of parts of her ribs – Heather started on the road to recovery and could finally pursue music more seriously.
She started by singing in assembly in front of her fellow students at Bassingbourn Village College, and spoke about what she had been through.
“After what I had been through I thought ‘I’m going to do what I want, look how I want, and do what makes me happy’,” said Heather.
“I speak out about what has happened because if it makes one girl not feel so alone, or makes them see the signs if this is happening to them and they get treated, then that’s a good thing.
“I want people to have the confidence to do things – because it’s something I didn’t have for so long.
“You can still see that I have back problems, but now I talk about it and hope I can inspire others – I even have a tattoo of the periodic symbol for titanium so people ask me about that.”
Heather’s family – dad Jason, mum Lindsay, brothers Ben, 17, and Tom, 12, and nine-year-old sister Lizzie – are all so supportive of the up-and-coming singer.
She started by posting videos of her singing covers on Facebook and YouTube to build her confidence.
And when dad Jason approached an old school friend in the music industry about Heather’s talent, the wheels on her music career started turning.
First she recorded a demo of covers in a studio, and then in 2017 she went to the Coach House Studio in Hesdin, France, to record her first original six-track recording.
She’s now working with a songwriter in Hungary, and has released her debut album ‘Little Flame’ – which is available on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.
Heather performs under stage name Camden Ruston, which she said is in honour of her idols but wants to keep those under wraps.
Her song ‘Phoenix’ is currently number 2 Cambridge 105’s New Music Generator chart for unsigned acts, and if she gets enough votes she could be number one next week.
Heather gigs around the area including at The Dolphin pub in Melbourn where she works, and has said the staff have been “brilliant”. She has also performed at the transgender charity Sparkle’s concert in Manchester in front of 2,000 people, and another which raised £160 for mental health charity Mind – a cause which is close to the family’s heart after her dad’s best friend sadly took his own life.
She said: “Things are changing so quickly. I was in the car with my family and we put the radio on and my song was playing! It was so crazy, but amazing.
“Everyone is being so supportive. I know I want to keep going, and possibly tour next year.
“I don’t know where I’ll be in a couple of years, but I know I’m excited about what’s to come.”
To hear Camden Ruston’s music or for more about where to download her music go to www.facebook.com/CamdenRuston and for more on the New Music Generator chart at Cambridge 105 – and to vote – go to cambridge105.co.uk/shows/new-music-generator.