Jordanstown girl Sophie Hanvey was the star of UTV’s Magazine programme recently as she received a People Like You Award from presenter Sarah Travers.
The 21-year-old had secretly been nominated for the award by Gayle Baird from the Child Brain Injury Trust.
“When we saw that nominations were open for this year and that UTV were looking for special people, we immediately thought of Sophie,” Gayle explained. “She has been through so much and achieved so much that she is an inspiration to others.”
Sophie suffered from large cranial aneurysm in December 2005 at the age of 13, and due to bleeding on her brain and the surgery required she was left with an acquired brain injury (ABI).
“People rarely think of a stroke happening to someone so young, but it does happen to people of all ages and is more common in children than you might think,” Gayle continued. “That child may then face the rest of their life with a brain injury and all the challenges that brings.”
Since then, Sophie has had additional health problems and regularly suffers from headaches and extreme fatigue, making it difficult for her to carry out normal daily activities.
Despite her health problems, Sophie has taken on a number of part-time jobs alongside studying for a degree in Sports Science. She works in the VIVO Essentials store in Jordanstown, which is owned by family friends Linda and Peter Stewart.
“When Sophie was initially discharged from hospital the family didn’t know where to turn. Sophie’s parents, Lyn and Trevor, found out about the Child Brain Injury Trust and got in touch,” Gayle said. “We were able to provide family support, awareness sessions in school and to develop strategies to help Sophie. For many children returning to school can be very hard. Maintaining friendships is difficult as children struggle to come to terms with the changes in their friend since the brain injury. Bullying is common in situations like this and can be improved through peer support sessions.”
Sophie, who has always been really sporty, completed a sponsored triathlon in 2011 under the name “Because I can”. She wants to encourage people to try to do things they don’t think they can do.
“Following my brain injury, the focus was on what I could not do. I decided to concentrate on what I could achieve. Through the help and support of the Child Brain Injury Trust, I progressed with my education and am currently in my final year of university,” Sophie commented.
The Hanvey family are great supporters of the Child Brain Injury Trust and have raised thousands of pounds for the charity.
“My family and I are so grateful to the charity and I hope to continue my fundraising work to assist their work and to raise awareness of ABI,” Sophie added.
For more information about the Child Brain Injury Trust log on to www.childbraininjurytrust.co.uk