Midlothian cancer survivor Sophie gets special New York surprise

BRAVE schoolgirl Sophie Walker made a special wish at the successful end of treatment for a rare form of childhood cancer '“ and a top airline helped make it come true.

Pixie Lott poses for a selfie with 11-year-old Sophie
Pixie Lott poses for a selfie with 11-year-old Sophie

Sophie, 11, was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour on her kidney in October 2017, on her big brother’s birthday, and underwent gruelling chemotherapy in her fight back to full health. The plucky youngster celebrated being given the all-clear in July after being cared for at the Sick Kids Hospital – and made a wish.

She had always dreamed of flying in style to New York and seeing the city’s sights. And after receiving a nomination from Children with Cancer and Leukaemia Advice and Support for Parents–- known as CCLASP – British Airways served up a trip of a lifetime for Sophie and mum Rebecca.

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Rebecca, 38, of Bonnyrigg, was in on the secret but little Sophie was completely in the dark - believing she was being flown to London to do some Xmas shopping.

Once there, she was serenaded at Heathrow by singer Pixie Lott and whisked to a hotel to meet other youngsters from around the UK also being given special treatment by BA.

The kids were flown to New York and spent the weekend in a top hotel as part of BA’s “live like Kevin” experience – based on the hit Home Alone movies. The trip included a VIP flight, a stay at the world-renowned Plaza hotel and surprises delivered by a selection of celebrity faces including Maguire, Maya Jama, Jodie Whittaker, Millie Bobby Brown and Jon Culshaw as President Trump. The three-day trip marks the start of the BA Magic 100 project, which will see 100 acts of kindness performed by the airline in its Centenary year, 2019

Mum-of-nine Rebecca said: “Sophie had blood transfusions, chemo, her liver and spleen were affected and she was left really tired – she was completely worn out. What the Sick Kids did for her was just amazing and we can never thank them enough. After that, CCLASP nominated her and it all just kind of happened from there.

“I was in on it and had told Sophie she was going to London shopping for her birthday. She didn’t have a clue until we got to Heathrow and she was stunned when we were told we were going to New York.”

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO said: “New York is a magical destination to visit at Christmas whether you are a child or an adult, so it was the perfect place to stage our most ambitious BA Magic surprise yet.

“The children have had to cope with very challenging circumstances and their stories are moving and inspiring. We wanted to give them and their parents a magical start to Christmas they will never forget.”