Ipswich: Brave girl on horseback following pioneering surgery

Stars of Suffolk winner Brooke Lawrence taking to the saddle on Thyme at the Shelley Centre for Ther

Stars of Suffolk winner Brooke Lawrence taking to the saddle on Thyme at the Shelley Centre for Therapeutic Riding, now able to ride without back and tummy supports and confident enough to put her hands on her head! - Credit: Archant

JUST look at her now! Six months ago little Brooke Lawrance could not stand, let alone ride a horse unaided.

Stars of Suffolk winner Brooke Lawrence taking to the saddle on Thyme at the Shelley Centre for Ther

Stars of Suffolk winner Brooke Lawrence taking to the saddle on Thyme at the Shelley Centre for Therapeutic Riding, now able to ride without back and tummy supports and confident enough to put her hands on her head! Volunteers Jo Goodliff, right, and Linda Allen guide Brooke and Thyme round the menage - Credit: Archant

But thanks to a life-changing operation in America last November, one of the seven-year-old’s many dreams has come true.

Brooke, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a tot, underwent the pioneering selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, followed by a second orthopaedic operation on her heel chords just days later.

Proud mum Sarah Lawrance, of Morland Road, Ipswich, said Brooke has been having lessons at The Shelley Centre for Therapeutic Riding in Layham Road, Shelley.

“To start with Brooke was put on a Shetland pony which wasn’t very far off the ground and she needed lots of front and back supports to keep her steady,” she said.


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“She was very unsteady and leaned to one side rather than upright. As soon as we came back from America, the staff put her on a bigger horse with no supports and she just sat there, which was great to see.”

Mrs Lawrance said Brooke’s weekly riding sessions with horse Thyme form part of her intensive course of physiotherapy.

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She added: “It really strengthens her core muscles and has been fabulous for her.

“You could really see the difference after the operation and Brooke is going from strength to strength.”

The youngster has daily physiotherapy sessions at her home and can now stand unaided for eight seconds.

Mrs Lawrance said: “We’ll definitely be carrying on with the horse riding, because it’s been really good for her and Brooke absolutely loves it.

“I told her horse riding might be cancelled this week because of the weather and she just sobbed, but thankfully it was on as normal.”

Since October 2011, more than £70,000 has been raised for Brooke’s surgery and continuing care, but more money is needed for her physio.

The whole family, including dad Peter and siblings Nadine, Neve and Samuel, will be flying out to America for Brooke’s one-year check-up in November.

Send your messages of support to Brooke – email starnews@archant.co.uk or write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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