Ipswich teenager Ayesha Sheldrake-Hemphrey has ‘holiday of a lifetime’ thanks to Dreamflight Florida trip
PUBLISHED: 14:34 23 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:04 23 October 2017
Schoolgirl now wants to “see the world” after she was taken on a charity-funded trip to Florida.
Ayesha Sheldrake-Hemphrey, 14, was among nearly 200 sick, seriously ill and disadvantaged children from across the UK who left their families behind and conquered their fears during the once-in-a-lifetime holiday to America.
The group spent 10 days in Florida on the annual Dreamflight trip, having been nominated by doctors, nurses and care workers around the country.
The 192 youngsters - some of whom require round-the-clock care - visited SeaWorld, Universal Studios and Disney World during the all-adventure tour of the Sunshine State.
Ayesha said: “The best bit for me has been all the time spent with different people. It’s been a chance to be with people who understand what other children are going through, where if you’ve got a disability it doesn’t actually matter.
“This has been the holiday of a lifetime and it has helped me to re-learn how to swim again.
“Dreamflight has helped me to come out of my shell. My aim for the future is to see the world, to travel everywhere I can.”
For many, it was the first time they had been away from home, with volunteer healthcare professionals acting as chaperones.
During the fun-packed trip, the children were also given the opportunity to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove in Orlando.
Several of the children were carefully lifted from their wheelchairs to get into the water, where instructors and carers helped them get up close with the mammals, while others overcame acute phobias to take part.
Dreamflight was founded in 1986. The first holiday of a lifetime took place in 1987 and has done every year since with 5,000 children now having been on the trip.