A schoolgirl, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 14 months and left unable to walk or feed herself, is hoping to realise her dream of leading Crystal Palace’s football team onto the field.
Thanks to the life-changing surgery she underwent four years ago, Scarlett Hewitt is now able to walk unaided and hopes that becoming the Crystal Palace mascot will mark the completion of her recovery.
The surgery, known as a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), cost £65,000 and was made possible by the kind donations of residents in her home town of New Addington, along with contributions from the readers of local newspaper the Croydon Advertiser. In all, £95,000 was raised.
Scarlett, who is 13 this month, is undergoing physiotherapy and rehabilitation, averaging four sessions a week, which are helping to increase her muscle strength. These have helped her to walk unaided indoors and, in recent months, outdoors too.
In 2014, prior to her surgery, the schoolgirl was invited to be a mascot for Crystal Palace and was carried across the pitch by former player Yannick Bolasie. Scarlett’s mum, Lisa Hewitt, explained that her dream was to do it again, an event that would be made even more special by the fact that this time she would be able to walk onto the pitch herself.
She said: “From where she was, when Yannick Bolasie carried her onto the pitch with her crutches in her hand, to where she is now; potentially walking unaided onto the pitch would be amazing.”
Ms Hewitt hopes the progress her daughter has made over the past four years will continue and that she will one day be able to live an independent life.
“If she wants to move out, take driving lessons and live independently in the future she should be able to.
“Physiotherapy is going to be a part of her life for the rest of her life and she just needs to take that on. If it means going to the gym on her own, or with someone else, then that’s what needs to be done.”
She added: “She has come a long way and we are all so proud of her.”
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