Welsh honour for brave Ruabon girl

Published date: 28 May 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A BRAVE girl with an extremely rare medical condition has been chosen to represent Wales in an equestrian event.

Leonie Saffy, 12, of Ruabon, will ride for the Welsh paralympic international team in a dressage contest against England, Scotland and Northern Ireland which is being held in Leicestershire this weekend.

Leonie and her sister Aaliyah, eight, both have a neuromuscular condition which is so rare there are only about 50 known cases around the world.

The condition – escobar syndrome – has left them with a disorder called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita which affects their limbs and all of their muscle tissue.

To date there is only one other confirmed case in the UK.

The sisters also have progressive scoliosis – spinal curvature – and heart and lung problems.

Aaliyah, who attends St Mary’s School in Ruabon, is also very keen on horseriding and both girls have shown tremendous courage and determination in progressing with the sport they love.

The sisters underwent surgery last year. Leonie, a pupil of Ysgol Rhiwabon, had plates and screws inserted into her right knee and was back riding just two weeks after surgery.

Aaliyah’s operation involved repositioning bones in her feet. She is due to resume riding in the summer.

Speaking about Leonie’s success at being chosen for the Wales team, her proud mum Zara said: “She has been riding for about two-and-a-half years.

“Leonie has done well in a number of competitions and this is the first time she has been selected for Wales.

“Leonie is very excited and can hardly wait for the home international to start.”

Mrs Saffy said Leonie receives coaching from Nicola Tustain, based in Bryneglwys, and from Janet Horswill, of Chester.

l The British Dressage Paralympic Home International will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

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