Mamma Mia! What a night for Sophie

Sophie (centre) and disco goers pictured at the Abba night
Sophie (centre) and disco goers pictured at the Abba night
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Campaigner and former athlete Sophie Ward said thank you for the music this week, after an Abba themed charity night in Garstang raised hundreds of pounds for two special causes.

Thanks were also due to the many local residents who danced the night away at Sophie’s Abba disco night at Garstang’s Wyrebank venue.

Sophie Ward whose swimming ambitions were ended when she contracted Lyme disease

Sophie Ward whose swimming ambitions were ended when she contracted Lyme disease

The fundraiser was in aid of Lyme Disease UK and Invisiyouth.

Sophie,25, from Garstang, whose career as a top swimmer with Olympic hopes was cruelly cut short after she contracted Lyme disease in 2008 on a trip to a panda sanctuary in China, has an additional reason for celebration this week.

She is delighted that Blackpool Council agreed to light up Blackpoool Tower lime green from May 7 - 9 in recongition of the fact that May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

The distinctive green colour is the colour of the Lyme Disease UK (LDUK) charity and Sophie said: “I am so excited and thankful to Blackpool Council for their support as they have agreed to light up one of the UK’s favourite landmarks.”

Blackpool Tower lit up in lime green to mark Lyme Disease  Awareness Month

Blackpool Tower lit up in lime green to mark Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Sophie is on the Lyme Disease UK administration team. Her disease was only diagnosed in 2017 and she now works to raise awareness of the tick spread disease. The former Kirkham Grammar pupil said: “We just want to make people aware. It’s literally a quick spray of repellant or tucking your trousers into your socks could protect and acve so many lives.”

The Wyrebank event raised £260 for Lyme Disease UK and £160 for Invisiyouth,

Sophie said: “People wore white to go with the Abba films’ Greek theme. Local company Printmob sponsored T-shirts with slogans of different Abba songs.

“My dad and mum own (local) residential parks Wyre Vale and Acresfield and a lot of residents came from the two parks.

“I chose Abba because everybody loves Abba and everybody knows the songs. We wanted everybody to get up and enjoy themselves and just have a great time.”

Tickets cost £15 and included supper. She added: “It was so nice to raise money for two charities that are close to my heart.

“Invisiyouth is a charity that supports young adults and youths going through chronic illness find a purpose in life.

“I had almost nine years undiagnosed with Lyme disease. It was a very isolating nine years. I just didn’t know what was wrong with me. I lost friends. I lost the support of my family for a short time. It was very isolating.”

She said she does not want anyone else to “go through the hell I went through. The doctors were saying it’s all in the head. I believed them”

It was only when she went to Royal Preston Hospital for an allergy test after developing many intolerances and suffering from migraine and other symptoms that she was referred to a consultant who carried out further tests and sent those tests to Germany for analysis.

A month later she wept after learning she had Lyme diseases, contracted when she visited China for the Bejing Olympics.

She said: “I’ve just had to research and adapt and accept that things are not going to get better they are probably going to get worse. My parents and family have been so supportive since then.”

* Lyme disease a bacterial infection that can be spread to humans by infected ticks. Public Health England estimates that there are 3,000 new cases of Lyme disease per year.