Sophie was just 16 years old when she was suddenly taken ill at the end of 2011. A blood clot had developed on her spinal cord and she became paralysed from the waist down. She was diagnosed with Cobb Syndrome and told that she would never be able to walk again.

Throughout that time Sophie and her family were supported by children’s charity, Variety, who provided her with a powerchair. At the time of writing, Sophie’s brother Matthew was preparing to run the Virgin Money London Marathon to raise awareness and funds for the charity.

Sophie, who is now a Young Ambassador for Variety, told her story to Able Magazine:

Can I take you back to when you acquired your disability; it happened quite suddenly didn’t it?

It was just a matter of a few days when I became paralysed. The doctor said that it was Cob Syndrome which means that I have extra blood vessels. These blood vessels were attached to my spinal cord and I had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). I had a bleed on my spinal cord which caused a blood clot and affected the nerves, leaving me paralysed.

Can you tell me how Variety have supported you?

The hospital in Stanmore got me in touch with Variety. Variety helped to get me a powerchair and I was able to get out and about on my own rather than relying on people to push me around in my manual wheelchair which was quite heavy.

You still lead an active life. What kind of things do you do?
I’ve finished my college course now and it was a massive help.

I’m looking for work and it helps me with getting out and about with friends and going to the shops or taking my dog for a walk. It’s the little everyday things…

When did your brother decide to run the Marathon?

It was a bit strange. He didn’t tell us for a bit and then he said “I’m going to do the Marathon”.

He’s seen how much Variety have helped me – and has been to a few other events with Variety and seen what they’ve done for other children. I think seeing all that and seeing what they’ve done for me, I think he wanted to help raise money for them.

How does it feel to be a Young Ambassador for Variety?

It’s quite an honour to be picked and I’ve done a few speeches at various events to try to help raise money for them. It has definitely given me more confidence in that respect.

I talk about the work they do and how they helped me in giving me my independence. I was lost for a bit. Just the support and how much them helping me, has helped my family.

Running the London Marathon

Matthew wants to help other people like Sophie. Running the London Marathon for Variety raises awareness and funds that make a difference to lives of other families in need.

Matthew said: “No-one deserves to miss out on childhood and Variety do an extremely good job of giving the best support to young children and their families. Having seen the work of Variety has motivated me and has made me feel that the work they do needs to be continued.”

Matthew’s fundraising page can be found at:

How Variety helped Sophie…

Sophie was provided with a Quickie Salsa Power wheelchair and it has increased her independence immensely. The charity works closely with medical advisors and wheelchair technicians to ensure that every wheelchair is customised to the child.

Variety improve young lives by providing practical help (such as Sunshine Coaches, wheelchairs and specialist equipment) as well as memorable childhood experiences.

Their practical help makes an immediate difference. It means that children have fewer bad days and more great days. With independence, freedom and dignity they are able to make the most of their childhood.

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