A first pregnancy scan should be a joyous time but Poppy’s parents Emily and Steve were devastated, they were told Poppy was only expected to live for one more day. She survived but then followed a head-on car crash at 15 weeks, and then at 16 weeks they received the diagnosis that half of Poppy’s heart was missing, along with a 90% chance of severe brain damage. But Poppy showed a determination to survive.
Now she is a brave seven-year-old with only half a heart and a sight impairment and she has endured three open heart surgeries to extend her life. Despite all of that Poppy is an example to us all: happy, bubbly and extremely caring, always more concerned for her family and friends than herself.
She has missed a lot of school through ill health, fatigue and hospital visits and had to learn to read using magnifiers and specialist computer equipment; every physical skill takes much longer for Poppy to master. However, she is top of her class for achievement and was awarded the Year 1 role model prize at her Caversham school for her inspirational attitude and achieving beyond expectations for her age. Poppy is a horse rider too and is a success both on and off the horse: National runner up in a 500 words story competition and first place for her collage in the South Region art competition, competing against all ages.
Poppy uses a wheelchair every day to conserve her energy for learning and eating, but she has achieved her dream of dancing in a ballet show with her school friends. She has fundraised over £250 by being sponsored to learn to swim and she is always the first to volunteer to help others and inspires all age groups with her cheeriness. Poppy has a huge hunger to live life to the full and celebrates being herself rather than worrying about the many things that are difficult for her.
One of her favourite things is going to the panto with Berkshire Vision every year at The Hexagon in Reading and meeting Justin Fletcher aka Mr Tumble. And after her Pride of Reading win, Penta Hotel gifted her a stay in their penthouse suite ‘more dressing up and giddiness’ says mum Emily.
Emily says: “Her future remains uncertain; a heart transplant may be possible to keep her alive into adulthood, but she also has a 50% chance of losing her sight completely… Despite these fears and her traumatic start to life, she is happy, bubbly and extremely caring… Steve and I promised her that we would keep positive and that however short her life turned out to be, we would try our best to make it a happy one.”
They don’t have a full diagnosis for Poppy’s eye condition yet so they concentrate on providing a wide variety of experiences for her to remember in case she does lose her sight completely.
“I am so proud to be her mum; whatever her future holds, I know she will continue to face it with gusto and humour.”
In 2018, Chris Tarrant was blown away by Poppy taking the ‘hurdles thrown at her in her stride’ and crowned her Pride of Reading Chris Tarrant Award Winner, on winning Poppy said “It’s all my dreams come true. I’m very happy to win Poppy”.
Dad Steve, added: “It can be very emotional, there’s lots of ups and downs… It seems to be calming down a little now but we don’t know when the next thing is going to come along but we still have a lot of fun! So having been told there was no future for Poppy we then saw that actually there could be…It’s not just us there are so many people in the background, our family and friends, her school and the medical teams…I wish we could give one of these to everyone we know for all the help they give us.”