Seashell Trust's 10 out of 10: Sofia Gawlyk

Quote:  Seashell Trust is providing tailored specialist education and a comfort zone for these special people with a picture of Sofia Gawlyk

To celebrate our decade as Seashell Trust, we are sharing ten top people who have been at the heart of our family during the last ten years – staff, volunteers, supporters and most importantly our extraordinary students and their families.

Let us know who else you think is 10 out of 10!

Sofia Gawlyk has been part of Seashell’s family since she was two years old. Next year she is planning to move from our special school to college.

Her dad John said: “Due to the nature of Sofia’s complex needs, Seashell Trust was the only establishment in the area to have the necessary skilled staff and facilities to support her. We never thought we would be in a position to ever leave her out of our sight.”

She was born at 26 weeks and now lives with a number of conditions, including chronic lung disease, diabetes and cerebral palsy.

With profound developmental delay, a severe hearing and visual impairment the only way her parents, carers and school staff can determine how she is feeling is to ‘read’ her body movements and facial expressions.

Sofia cannot walk, in fact it takes great effort to move her limbs at all. Consequently, Sofia always needs someone with her who knows her well to make her feel safe and understand her needs.

John said: “The past 15 years have motored on so quickly, seeing the transformation of Sofia from a very young child to a young adult.

“Brilliant staff, including Anne Gough, have worked with our daughter – too many to name individually but all great in their own way. She appears to be more aware of her surroundings and her interaction with people is vastly improved.”

The Queen’s visit to Seashell, Christmas concerts, the summer fairs and parents’ weekends have all been special Seashell moments for the Gawlyk family but as John poignantly noted: “The sight of Sofia walking down a corridor in her walking frame for a charity fundraiser will always stay strongest in our memory.”

When a student joins our school or college, our care and education extend beyond that child.

Explaining what Seashell Trust means to Sofia’s family, John said: “The effect it has on family life is always in our thoughts and we can only admire and respect the way the collective family copes with everyday challenges. 

“We have a far better understanding of the vast array of complex needs some of our younger members of society carry. And Seashell Trust is providing tailored specialist education and a comfort zone for these special people.

 “We have the confidence and knowledge that the professional staff at Seashell Trust has our daughter’s health, welfare and education at heart.”