PEDAL POWER

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WHEN little Sophie Clarke saw her twin brother’s new bike, she was devastated she could not have one. Now her family are launching an appeal to buy the Wisbech youngster a specially adapted trike.

The cost for a trike comes in at just over £1,000, which is beyond the reach of the Maldon Road family, but the twins’ school, Clarkson Infants’, has stepped forward and put up the money so Sophie can get the bike sooner. Parents Mandy Seaton and Barry Clarke are now fundraising to pay the school back.

Sophie and her brother Lewis, who are three-and-a-half years old, were born prematurely at 29 weeks and, as a consequence, both have cerebral palsy.

However, Sophie is more affected than her brother and can only walk short distances with the aid of a walking frame. She has stiff muscles and difficulty with her balance and co-ordination.

Lewis can walk unaided and has recently started to ride a bike with stabilisers, but Sophie needs an adapted trike as she has not got the co-ordination or strength to ride a normal bike.

Mum Mandy Seaton said: “We went to B&Q and tried lots of bikes. We found one for Lewis, but then Sophie saw a princess one that she really wanted.

“We’ve always said that if one gets something, the other gets it as well. This was the first time she hadn’t had something Lewis had and she was very upset. It was very hard that day. So I said to her, ‘Sophie, we will get you a bike.’

“Sophie had a trial on a trike and she loved it. I took some pictures on my phone and people said they’ve never seen her so happy.”

Mandy and Barry have been supported in their efforts by Clarkson Infants’ School in Wisbech, where the twins attend the nursery.

Headteacher Mike English said: “We are very supportive of Ms Seaton’s efforts to help her daughter and we are helping in any way we can.

“We are willing to put up the money for the trike up-front so Sophie can get it sooner and in the meantime, fundraising will take place.

“We don’t see why Sophie should miss out just because her bike is more expensive.”

Sophie has always suffered with her health and was in and out of hospital for the first two years of her life.

She had dysplasia of the hips and was put in a plaster cast when she was six months old to help her hips stay in the right position. Thankfully, the procedure worked and her consultant is very pleased with the results.

Sophie has also had three hernias, including a large one that came out of her belly button and unusually had to be operated on.

Although her physiotherapist does not know if Sophie will ever walk, Mandy is optimistic – and even has a promise from her partner of 21 years that they will marry if Sophie can walk down the aisle.

Mandy is in the process of organising fundraising events, including a raffle that will hopefully be held at the school. She is hoping local businesses will get behind them and donate prizes.

Anyone wishing to donate money or prizes can contact Mandy on 07986-227389. Alternatively, they can be taken into the school or brought into the Citizen offices at 11 Union Street, Wisbech or 26 Market Place, March.