A Wetherby teenager who has a chronic illness that once left her so ill she couldn’t walk her dog to the end of the road without feeling exhausted is celebrating after making it to the top of England’s tallest mountain – with a little help from her friends.
Sophie Atkinson, 19, and fellow Harrogate College students Sarah Murphy, Lauryn Brogatzki and Rheanna Ainsley climbed Scafell Pike in Cumbria. Their trek has raised nearly £700 for the ME Association charity, which supports patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
Sophie was diagnosed with ME - an illness which causes extreme tiredness that does not go away with rest or sleep, muscle pain, severe headaches and difficulty with brain function - after suffering from glandular fever five years ago.
“I never thought I would be well enough to do something like this,” said Sophie who, two years ago could not walk her dog to the end of the road without feeling exhausted.
“It was brilliant day. The views from the top were stunning, but it was so cold. We only stayed at the peak for five minutes.
“It was a great experience and I’m proud of how much money we have raised.
“People have been so generous with their sponsorship – even people I don’t know have sponsored me and left messages of support, which has been amazing.”
There are 250,000 with ME in the UK and there is no known cure.
Sophie added: “Two years ago I couldn’t walk my dog to the end of the road without feeling exhausted. I missed a lot of school and when I did go, I had to get a taxi to take me there – even though it was only a short walk away. I also missed a lot of doing ‘normal’ teenage things like going out as well.
“Although I felt up to this challenge, I’m one of the lucky ones. Many people with ME are housebound and their loved ones have become their carers. I still have to carefully manage my energy levels and I made sure that for a few days afterwards I got a lot of rest.”
Helen Hyland, fundraising manager of the ME Association, said: “It makes my day to hear of people who have had this horrid illness, managing to get out and about again, and to challenge themselves as Sophie has done.
“But Sophie, as she says, is one of the luckier ones. We were so pleased that she and her friends enjoyed their challenge.
“Let’s hope that it won’t be the last time she feels well enough to head to the hills. We thank all of them for their wonderful fundraising efforts.”