Youngster with mobility condition back on her feet following shoe donation

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist sho

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist shoes by Lowestoft Lions.Sapphire with her parents Stanley and Chloe.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A community service group has brightened the prospects of a two-year-old girl by donating a specially-designed pair of shoes to help her walk.

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist sho

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist shoes by Lowestoft Lions.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Sapphire–Elysia Saunders suffers from hypermobility syndrome, a condition which involves joints in the body being highly flexible. Sufferers are far more prone to dislocation than is typical and regularly experience varying degrees of pain.

The youngster, who lives in north Lowestoft with her mother Chloe and father Stanley, therefore has difficulty walking and requires bespoke footwear with extra support to support her ankles.

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist sho

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist shoes by Lowestoft Lions.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

'Sapphire wasn't showing signs of learning to walk as a baby and it wasn't until her ten-month review that her joints were flagged up as a cause for concern,' said Mrs Saunders.

'We'd heard of people being double-jointed, but this was really extreme and she was diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome. She has really narrow, small feet which are very floppy, meaning she needs special shoes to help her to walk.'

Lions president Derek Ward (left) and Lion John Swatton (right) with Sapphire-Elysia Saunders and he

Lions president Derek Ward (left) and Lion John Swatton (right) with Sapphire-Elysia Saunders and her parents Stan and Chloe. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant


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The family were pointed in the direction of Piedro Shoes, a company who make orthopaedic footwear with the capacity to hold and support the foot in the correct anatomical position within the shoe.

These were initially funded by the NHS but, with Sapphire needing a new pair costing £125 every three months, the provision was unable to continue.

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist sho

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist shoes by Lowestoft Lions.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

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However, when Lowestoft Lions got wind of the situation, they decided to step in and save the day. As well as agreeing to fund the shoes for 12 months, they bought Sapphire a £450 pushchair that provides additional support for her joints.

'Sapphire's health visitor had suggested writing to the Lions to see if they could help,' added Mrs Saunders. 'It was a stab in the dark, but they replied remarkably quickly and said they were more than happy to help.

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist sho

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist shoes by Lowestoft Lions.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

'She met the Lions while taking part in their Easter Egg Trail at Sparrow's Nest Garden and I think the sight of her walking across the grass in her new shoes melted their hearts.

'Seeing a child walk is just one of those things that makes you happy,' added Mrs Saunders. 'It's so inspiring to see Sapphire enjoying herself, and amazing how a small thing has had such a big impact on her life.'

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist sho

Sapphire-Elysia Jasmine Saunders,3, has started walking after being donated a pair of specialist shoes by Lowestoft Lions.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft Lions will fund the purchase of Sapphire's specially-designed shoes over the next 12 month

Lowestoft Lions will fund the purchase of Sapphire's specially-designed shoes over the next 12 months. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

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