Sidford family’s £100k appeal for help

Diane and Stephen Hartwell have launched an appeal to get life-saving treatment for their daughter,

Diane and Stephen Hartwell have launched an appeal to get life-saving treatment for their daughter, Sophie - Credit: Archant

Illness means Sophie, 23, ‘has not started’ her life - but NHS says there is no treatment available in UK

Sophie Hartwell

Sophie Hartwell - Credit: Archant

Parents desperate to save their daughter from a debilitating illness have launched an appeal to raise £100,000 for treatment abroad - because the NHS says it cannot help her.

Sophie Hartwell, 23, of Trow Hill, developed anorexia nervosa and depression six years ago - and within five months went from a healthy weight to an emaciated state that left her gravely ill and hospitalised for two months.

Her parents, Diane and Stephen, said that without medical attention at the time she would have died. They feel that repeated failures by mental health services have seen her condition worsen.

Sophie has missed all of her most important education years and her life is effectively on hold - while her condition has become so complex it is now classed as too severe for any treatment available in the UK.


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Stephen said: “It’s more than £100,000 to get treated in America – there is no set fee because we do not know how long it could take for her to get better, so it could be double that.

“She is 23 now and she has not even started her life – she has never been on a date. It just tears your heart out. If we cannot get her to America, I do not know what will happen because the NHS cannot do it.

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“She has quite severe OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] and can’t even walk past a pan on the stove because of [her fear of] transmission of calories. They have got to tackle the OCD before they can even start the anorexia side. We are desperate for help. The NHS said just before Christmas that they could not do anything to help Sophie.”

He added that mental illnesses are deadly and anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any.

Sophie has a sister, Emma, 21, and brother, Toby, 18, and would love to enjoy a ‘normal’ family life.

Diane, who is Sophie’s full-time carer, said: “It hinders doing anything together. As anybody would, we deal with it and we do not complain about it. All we want is for our child to be well. She has got plans for what she wants to do and she has plans to get better and go to university. She just really wants to get better.”

Self-employed carpenter Stephen said he has been working around the clock to raise funds, but it is still not enough.

The couple say that if they were homeowners they would have no hesitation in selling their property to fund Sophie’s treatment, but the appeal is their last hope. The family have set up a trust in Sophie’s name.

Anyone able to help can make cheques payable to ‘The Sophie Hartwell Trust’ and sent to Trow Lodge, Trow Hill, Sidford, Sidmouth, EX10 OPW. Call the Herald on 01392 888504 to pass on support.

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