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Sporty Sophie gets back on the slopes thanks to Aspire

Sep 19, 2016

Sophie Elwes Mono Sit Ski 280915

28-year-old Sophie from Wandsworth graduated from Leeds University in 2010 with a degree in sociology and enjoyed skiing, dancing and playing tennis as part of an active lifestyle. But a year later her whole life changed when a bad fall left her paralysed.

“In February 2011 I was out on the roof terrace at my friend’s house, when I lost my balance and fell more than 6.5m. I sustained injuries to my back as well as a bad head injury and was in intensive care for five weeks in an induced coma. I was lucky to be alive.

“Once I was out of the coma, it gradually became very apparent that something wasn’t right.  Specialists were asking me to wriggle my toes but I couldn’t, and it began to dawn on me that this was pretty major. I couldn’t feel anything from the chest down.”

After spending two months in Kings College Hospital, London and a further three months at Stoke Mandeville as an in-patient, Sophie moved in with her parents in Balham.  For independent Sophie, moving back in with her parents and learning how to do things for herself again was a big thing: “I just didn’t want to be pushed around, I needed to do my own thing”.

It was during her stay at Stoke Mandeville that Sophie first found out about Back-Up, a charity she now works for.  Someone from the charity went in and spoke about the activities they were involved in, one being skiing.

“I didn’t realise that sport would even be a possibility for me after the accident, so I took full advantage of every opportunity that I could. I went on a ski trip with Back Up and it was amazing. Exercise had always been a big part of my life, so being able to be active again makes such a huge difference to me and my overall well-being.”

Sophie wanted to pursue her renewed passion for skiing so she applied to Aspire for help to buy mono sit ski, a piece of equipment that would enable her to go skiing. In 2014, her application was granted, and Sophie completed a Your Fund application so that friends and family could also make donations online to help meet her equipment and training costs.

Sophie has spent time in Colorado training and is now training with the British ParaSnowsports Team and is planning more trips away to train and compete in competitive races. Sophie has ambitions to compete in the winter Paralympic games in 2018 and 2022.

“Aspire has made it possible for me to get this far with my skiing, and it’s changed my life. They provide useful and functional support which really makes a difference. I couldn’t have done it without them.”