Belfast Telegraph

Fairytale journey for brave little Phoebe

By Ashleigh McDonald

A brave Bangor youngster paralysed in an horrific hit-and-run accident seven years ago has just had the trip of a lifetime to Eurodisney.

Phoebe Lyle (10), her brother Patrick and their parents Jane and Robert travelled to the resort outside Paris last week.

It's the first foreign holiday the family has had since April 2001 when Phoebe suffered devastating injuries in a hit-and-run accident on a family trip to Spain.

The youngster, who was three at the time, was left in a coma for three weeks with severe head and spinal injuries.

Paralysed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair, Phoebe requires 24-hour care and can't breathe without a ventilator.

She has three daily physiotherapy sessions and suction to clear her lungs as she cannot cough.

Seven years on, Phoebe has just enjoyed her dream holiday where she attended a princess's party, was kissed by Prince Charming and met her all-time favourite Disney character, Koda the Bear.

The Disney trip is the latest in a long line of milestones for the plucky girl, dubbed 'Lady P' by her adoring family.

Last December, she was bridesmaid at her cousin Rachel's wedding and, in January, Phoebe and a group of friends celebrated her 10th birthday with a beauty party at home.

Despite her severe disability, Phoebe is just like any other 10-year-old girl.

She plays games, with the help of oral aids, on her Nintendo DS and PC and enjoys visiting websites such as YouTube and eBay.

Phoebe, a P5 pupil at Ballymagee Primary, said: "I just love eBay. I look up things to buy and then I ask my daddy for his credit card number.

"He sometimes buys me things £ and sometimes he doesn't!"

Phoebe also writes poems and plays, and last year she was presented with a 'highly recommended' certificate for verse speaking at the Bangor Speech Festival.

When Sunday Life visited Phoebe, her 11-year-old brother Patrick comes in and showers her with kisses.

And like a typical younger sister, she beams at him then tells him to " get off".

Phoebe said: "I had a brilliant time in Disneyland. I love Koda the Bear and, when I met him, he gave me kisses and a big bear hug.

"I had a princess lunch with fairy princesses and went on a ride called Small World. I went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as well, but I didn't like that because of the two big hills."

Mum Jane admits the family holiday took a lot of organising, but said it was worth every minute.

"We took several of Phoebe's carers with us so we went over in three cars and it took us two ferries and two solid days driving to get there.

"We are very grateful to all those who came with us and helped make it a fantastic holiday."

Jane revealed that she plans to email some of her holiday pictures to the medical team in Spain who treated Phoebe following the horrific accident.

She said: "I asked doctors in the Royal (Victoria Hospital) months ago about the possibility of taking Phoebe to France and they said to me 'Phoebe rewrites the rules, so go for it'.

"She's a typical 10-year-old girl. She can be a little madam, but we love her and are so proud of her."

And Phoebe is not short of friends.

She said: "When I'm at school, I sometimes go out into the playground. But if the weather is bad or I don't want to go out, I make a rota for my friends to stay with me."

Last December, Phoebe was bridesmaid at her cousin Rachel's wedding. Rachel married fellow barrister Mark Farrell and Phoebe wore a pretty pink dress.

She said: "The lady who made my dress made an outfit for my Koda the Bear teddy as well so we both looked nice at the wedding.

"It was supposed to rain that day, but it was lovely and sunny and I loved being bridesmaid."

She also celebrated her 10th birthday in January with a beauty-themed party where Phoebe and her friends made their own soap, perfume and lip gloss.

Jane revealed the birthday money she received "burned a hole in her pocket".

She added: "We go to Bloomfields Shopping Centre and after her birthday she had lots of money to spend. Her father and I have tried to ensure she doesn't miss out on opportunities. I see her as an ordinary child who just happens to be unable to walk or breathe on her own."

The last word goes to Lady P who simply states: "When people ask me what is wrong or why I'm in a wheelchair, I tell them I have been like this for as long as I can remember."

Belfast Telegraph

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