Crutches instead of a curtsy for date with royals

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 14/04/2014
Sophie Newbold,
MEMORIES TO TREASURE: Sophie Newbold, 19, of Queenstown has a rare condition called cardio facio cutaneous syndrome. She met Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in Dunedin yesterday.

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It took a trip to the hospital, surgery and a pair of crutches for Sophie Newbold's dream to come true.

Sophie, a Cure Kids ambassador, was told six weeks ago that she would be meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Queenstown teenager.

But as she set out to perfect her curtsy, it all went horribly wrong.

"I was just practising my curtsy and it [knee] just clicked."

It was back to the hospital for the 19-year-old, who is no stranger to theatre and hospital wards, with a dislocated knee, torn ligaments and broken knee cap.

Sophie has a rare condition called cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome and was just the 12th person in the world to be diagnosed with it when she was born.

The condition typically affects the heart, facial features and skin, but the bubbly teen does not let it stop her from getting the most out of life.

And yesterday, Sophie could not stop smiling, despite being discharged from hospital only a week earlier.

Sophie emerged from the players' tunnel at Forsyth Barr stadium accompanying William and Catherine just seconds after she had spoken to them.

The former Arrowtown School pupil said she had not slept for days leading up to meeting the couple during their whirlwind stop in Dunedin and could not stop shaking.

But when she finally met them, unable to curtsy because of her crutches and a knee brace, she did not waste any time.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said Sophie dived straight in with her questions, asking how the littlest royal family member was. ‘How's George?" she asked the pair.

Kate responded by telling her he was still settling into sleeping patterns in New Zealand, Tew said.

Sophie still could not believe she had spoken to the future king and his wife, but said she would "remember it forever".

Sophie's mother Bridget said it had been a stressful couple of weeks for the royal enthusiast, but doctors had promised to fix her knee enough to ensure she could speak with William and Kate, though they couldn't promise she would be able to curtsy.

She was chosen to meet the royal couple as a Cure Kids ambassador, along with Dunedin 10-year-old Brayden Warnock-Hannon,who has burns to 45 per cent of his body.

The Newbold family have had a longstanding relationship with the organisation, especially after Sophie underwent surgery in 2010 by Professor Swee Tan.

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Tan was the only person able to help Sophie in New Zealand, removing large haematomas from her body.

The organisation has funded Tan's research into benign tumours.

Sophie may have weeks of recovery ahead of her, but she has a special memory that will last her a lifetime.

 

- The Southland Times

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