From Sky Ward to the Sky Garden – Amy's story

Gymnastics-loving Amy was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital when, at age 13, she injured her back competing. At hospital, her family were told that Amy may not be able to walk again.

Six years later, Amy is now working at GOSH Children's Charity and has signed up to take on the Walkie Talkie Tower Climb challenge to raise money for the hospital that helped her to get back on her feet.

Diagnosis and coming to GOSH

"I was competing five or six times a week as a gymnast, and I was training for a competition when I fell and hurt my back. I was taken to A&E and told to have a week in bed and then I’d be fine. But that wasn’t the case.

"I went back to my local hospital where an MRI scan picked up that I'd crushed the bottom three discs of my spine. I lost the movement in my left arm and leg, and I couldn't move my knee or ankle. My consultant referred me to GOSH for further investigations and I started having intense physio.

“The loss of movement all happened quite gradually  it was scary. I was on crutches first, but when I lost movement in my arm I couldn’t use them and had to be in a wheelchair.”

Surgery and Sky Ward

"With intense physio, I gradually managed to get the movement back in my arm and knee, but nothing was improving with my ankle. Doctors soon realised that my achilles tendon had completely shrunk, causing my foot to drop into a pointed position. I had to have two surgeries to correct it, and lots of intense physio

"I was on GOSH's Sky Ward for quite a while and then in and out for about a year before I was discharged when I was 15 years old. Sometimes, I was able to go home for the weekend. I ended up dropping back a school year because I missed so much."

Memories of GOSH

“Being at GOSH didn’t really feel like being in hospital at all. I made friends on Sky Ward and when I went to the GOSH School. We did lots together, especially because a lot of the friends I made were in the same position as me – lots of us in wheelchairs. 

“The teachers at the school made a real impression on me, they were really nice and used to take us out to the park. Being at the school while being in hospital brought a sense of normality back into my life.

“After I was discharged, I still came back to GOSH for outpatient appointments and check-ups to make sure everything was still okay. After my surgery I was told I wouldn’t really be able to do gymnastics again and I'd have reduced strength in my leg because of the accident.”

Amy today

"There are still things I can’t do because of my accident. I can’t run, only waddle! I don’t have much strength in my leg and I have to be really careful what I do with my back. I’m not allowed on roller-coasters in case it jolts anything with my spine. It was hard when all my friends were going to Thorpe Park and I couldn’t! Over time, it has got a lot better, and I’m now able to do more.

“A big milestone for me was being able to wear my first pair of high heels! I wasn’t able to do this for ages when all my friends could because I was still on crutches when I went back to school.”

Taking on the Walkie Talkie Tower Climb

"I’m now 21 and currently on a university placement working in the Community Fundraising team at GOSH Children’s Charity. I've worked on lots of events, including RBC Race for the Kids, London Santa Dash and now the Walkie Talkie Tower Climb.

"I get to talk lots with supporters who are signed up to our events and it’s been interesting speaking to other people who are signed up for the Tower Climb to see why they’re taking part and what training they’re doing! It’s especially nice to read the fundraising stories of people who were once GOSH patients like me.

“I’ve raised £300 so far and am taking part with a few other people from the charity, which is definitely keeping me motivated. I’m trying to do the stairs at Russell Square station to train! We’re also doing a cake sale in the office to try and raise more money ahead of the challenge and I’ve been sharing my fundraising link on social media to get my friends to sponsor me. My dad shared the link at work too as lots of people he works with know I was treated at GOSH when I was younger.

“At one point after I had the accident my parents were told I might not ever walk again. Signing up to the Walkie Talkie Tower Climb will really push me – I haven’t done anything like this since everything that happened with my back, but I’ll feel really proud of myself once I’ve reached the Sky Garden finish line at the top of the building. It’s all for such a good cause and when I'm finding the climb difficult, I’ll just think about why I’m doing it."

Join Amy at the Walkie Talkie Tower Climb

There's still time to sign up for either our Thursday night or Saturday morning climb events!

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