Trip of a lifetime for Sheffield youngster

The Dreamflight charity has given a Sheffield girl the holiday of a lifetime, after multiple illnesses left her with brain damage, spinal issues, severe anxiety and chronic fatigue.

Sophie Dobson, 12, was nominated by the Pain Team at Sheffield Children’s Hospital to go on the trip to Florida after going through ocular issues, a spinal cyst removal, which caused bacterial meningitis, mobility problems, and constant pain.

Dreamflight aims to give children like Sophie two weeks of enjoyment and opportunities away from home, to build their confidence and independence which has been robbed by illness.

Activities included experiencing all the Disney parks, Hollywood Disney Studios and Universal Studios, swimming with dolphins, and going on the rides, which was Sophie’s favourite part.

Looking back on her holiday, Sophie said: “This has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for children like me. It’s been brilliant.

“I really like travelling now and I think I might become an air hostess so I can travel more.”

There are 12 regional groups with 16 children in each, accompanied by a Group Leader, a doctor, physiotherapist, three nurses and two non-medical escorts.

Sophie was taken care of by nurses Jo and Hannah from Sheffield Children’s Hospital, and a number of volunteers from both the UK and America, who she enjoyed being with.

Paralympic champion, Liz Johnson was among the volunteers supporting the children, having travelled to Florida as a Dreamflight child 19 years earlier.

She told The Press Association: “There are so many reasons why I feel the need to give back to this charity.

“Some children you see the direct impact within the ten days of the trip but for others it’s a more subtle impact that goes throughout their lifetimes.”

Debbie Dobson, Sophie’s Mum, from Sheffield said: “She finds some days harder than others but it has helped meeting the other children who understand the struggles that she goes through every day.

“It’s an amazing charity. What they give to the children is out of this world.”

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