Inspirational Pride of Britain winner Sarah Hope explains how she raised £1.5 million for child amputees in the UK
It’s no wonder to us Sarah Hope is receiving a Special Recognition award at Pride of Britain this year. Sarah has been through one of the worst traumas imaginable. In April 2007 a terrible bus collision resulted in the tragic death of Sarah’s mother, Elizabeth, 65, and left her young daughter Pollyanna, then aged two, fighting for her life.
Yet the London-based mum of three, together with her twin sister Victoria Bacon, has not only started a charity for child amputees abroad, but has also convinced the government to pledge £1.5 million to child amputees in the UK.
Here Sarah Hope reveals how personal tragedy led her to forming amputee charity Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope and how she persuaded George Osborne to give £1.5 million to the NHS for children’s sports prosthetics…
How does it feel to receive the Pride of Britain Award?
“It doesn’t feel quite real and is a bit overwhelming, but the kids are excited and I can’t wait to meet Carol Vorderman.”
Could you tell us about that fateful day in 2007?
“My mother, Elizabeth, my daughter, Pollyanna, and I went to catch a bus to visit my sister Victoria, who’d just had a baby at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Pollyanna ended up at the same hospital when a bus mounted the pavement in a fit of road rage. My mother was killed and Pollyanna’s leg was hanging off, but I couldn’t help because I was trapped under the bus myself.”
It must still be difficult for you to talk about…
“It’s hard but I focus on the present because that’s the positive bit to the story. Pollyanna has one leg, but apart from that she’s absolutely fine in every way.”
How did you manage to raise £1.5 million for children’s sports prosthetics in the UK?
“After the 2012 Paralympics I desperately wanted Pollyanna to have a running blade. However, the NHS can’t afford to give them out. We bought one privately for several thousand pounds. But every time I saw someone talking about the Paralympic legacy, I got annoyed because not only were they not creating the next generation of Olympians, it was unfair children couldn’t be active. A child needs to be able to do more than just walk. So I went to the then-chancellor, George Osborne, because I thought ‘he’s the man with the money’!”
When did you discover he was providing £1.5 million for sports prosthetics?
“I heard about it the day before it was announced in the budget! Children’s lives are being transformed. Without running blades everything – sports, walking, jumping, dancing – is so much effort, but now they’ve a spring in their step. The day Pollyanna got her blade she ran and did cartwheels in the park. She wears it all the time!”
Tell us more about why you created Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope?
“Victoria and I set up Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope in 2011 in our mother’s memory. There are horrible reasons why children in developing countries lose limbs – landmines, war, infections – the more we learned the more we wanted to do something.”
Is the charity growing?
“Yes but we need a lot of help. We’ve clinics in India and Sierra Leone, but Liberia is almost a forgotten country. We’ve a plan to set up a project there but we’re only a small charity so lack funds. If anything can come out of the awards it will be to help the forgotten children in Liberia.”
See real-life hero Sarah receive the Special Recognition Award at Pride of Britain on ITV on Tuesday at 8pm. There’s also a dazzling array of royalty and stars attending this year including Princes Charles and William, Rod Stewart, Michael Caine and David Beckham!
To donate to Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope please visit the links above