Despite her lung capacity dropping, young hockey player Phoebe Bolton shows no signs of slowing down as she scoops awards for her skills and determination.
The 12-year-old, who was born with cystic fibrosis, has been a member of Preston Hockey Club since 2016 and her mum, Sharron, believes the sport is helping her with her condition.
She says: “Over the past 12 months, Phoebe has had a difficult time as her lung function is down to between 85 per cent and 75 per cent. When she has an infection, it drops a bit.
“She has had shadowing on her liver and she will have further testing to see if she has liver disease. She has been referred to a specialist at Leeds.
“Despite that, she has continued to play hockey and keep fit as normal. She is sponsored by Nuffield Health, based at the Capitol Centre, where she has a personal trainer.
“A lot of it is down to continued exercising that she is able to bring her lung function to 85 per cent. If she did not exercise, she would be down to 75 per cent. The next time she gets an infection, it would drop even more.
“By doing exercise, she is allowing her lungs to repair themselves to continue to cope with the disease. Her condition will never go away.”
Sharron, of Walton-le-Dale, adds exercise is vital to help keep certain conditions such as asthma or cystic fibrosis under control.
She says: “My message is never give up exercise. Children with asthma are scared of doing exercise but by keeping your heart and lungs in a good state, your body can almost rebel against the condition. It should not stop you from achieving.”
Sharron is now a hockey coach for the club and she is proud of the teams’ achievements, as they were recognised at the GLL Preston Sports Awards.
The club was honoured with a highly commended award for team performance of the year and Sharron was highly commended for coach of the year. Youngsters also competed in the Tensworth Academy for boys and girls under 13, where 10 members were selected for the teams. Phoebe, who is sponsored by sports manufacturer Beikou, was also selected in the under 13s category.
Sharron adds: “The club has grown to continue to achieve awards and we have club mark status.
“Preston Hockey Club has been involved in the Cheshire League for many years and we are the only club in the area to offer our juniors this experience. Our mixed team of 14 toured around Cheshire between September and March and we had such a great season.
“I also encouraged members to attend Tensworth Academy, which feeds players to the British Lions, separate to England Hockey, This is a private academy where youngsters from all around the North West who play county level hockey can attend the trials.
“I took seven girls and six of those made selection. I took four boys and all of those made selection. Phoebe was one of the few that got chosen, which enabled her to go back for further coaching. There were three teams of 18 girls representing the North West.
“Phoebe got under 13s county status and she played under 13s in two tournaments in Leeds in March and April. She is competing with the best in the local area. Because of her mind set, strength and determination, she is achieving all this - all with 75 per cent to 85 per cent lung strength. Could you imagine how she would be with 100 per cent capacity? The club has been great in supporting and encouraging her. Phoebe really enjoys hockey and she is able to play in mixed sex teams.
“Hockey gives her a purpose and shows her life is not just about her condition. We now want to help the club get funding to buy a new pitch.”