Kirkham Grammar School is LDUK’s Sophie Ward’s old school and they raised a whopping £1750 for LDUK! Thank you so much to the school for their support and also to Sophie for maintaining a link with her old school, raising awareness amongst the students and for attending to pick up the cheque. Here is Sophie’s account:
“I was extremely lucky and honoured to be invited back to my old school, Kirkham Grammar School after I had been invited last November to give a talk about Lyme disease in the main assembly in front of all 700 pupils about Lyme Disease. My story & the facts had really hit home with the school. Many pupils & teachers had no prior knowledge or very little before hearing my talk.
They contacted me shortly after my assembly and said they really wanted to host some sort of fundraiser to help the cause which of course, meant the world to me. I was so thankful for the opportunity to speak to everyone let alone them want to support our charity further. The teachers asked me to leave it with them and told me that they would get in touch to brainstorm some ideas in the near future. Sure enough, as soon as the weather improved and exams were over, they organised a full day of fun activities involving both pupils and teachers. In late June 2019, the school invited me back to watch some of the activities take place and it was so amazing to see so much going on and everyone coming together and having a fun time. There were football games, netball games, bake sales, obstacle courses and craft sales throughout the whole day. It was so uplifting.
The teachers said they wanted to give the pupils and teachers time to collect their sponsorships and donations and then they would invite me back to receive the cheque in the new school year.
On 30th September, not only was I invited to receive the cheque, but once again I had been invited to talk. I jumped at the chance! Although speaking to 700 pupils is daunting, I really wanted to show my gratitude & let them know exactly how their support, kindness and fundraising would help Lyme Disease UK. Once again it was the perfect opportunity to raise awareness and highlight the struggles Lyme disease patients face when it comes to getting recognised, being heard and accessing care.
I faced a choice when I stood before those pupils. At first, I thought I would stand up and just share the hard-hitting facts and figures relating to Lyme disease and then go over symptoms, prevention techniques and general awareness tips. However, when I stood up & looked around with all 700 pupils and teachers all giving me their full attention, I realised I had to use my time wisely. I had only a few minutes to make an impact that would stay with them all for many years to come. We all watch the ‘Children In Need’, ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ shows on TV and while they also give us the various fats, it is the personal stories that catch our attention and stay with us. I could have taken the easy road and distanced myself from my own battle in my speech and purely stick to facts or I could face my fears and be completely open. I decided to be open and real. I shared my own issues and details about what this disease is doing to my body and my life. I shared how Lyme has derailed my dreams, especially as, to many of my teachers, I am still ‘Sophie The Swimmer.’ They remember me as a strong athlete, who trained more for more hours than she did homework for each night.
The girl that now stood before them was skin and bone, exhausted and mentally and physically crushed. However, it was clear that I am still fighting and creating purpose in my life. I was being open, not for pity or sympathy, but so that everyone could understood how important their donations are for helping to bring about change in the field of Lyme disease. It was important to shed light on what sufferers go through every day. I only spoke for a short time, but everyone stayed engaged which told me that I had said enough for them to hold on to the words I had spoken and to realise how grateful I am personally and LDUK is as a charity. In the future, when the topic of Lyme comes up for any of the individuals in the room, they won’t just know the cold, hard facts but they will have a better understanding of the struggle and seriousness of the disease.
Kirkham managed to raise a staggering £1780 for Lyme Disease UK, which is truly incredible.
Thank you, Kirkham Grammar School.”