New Specialised WaterSki For Inspiring Primrose Award Recipient

Sophie Elwes is an admirable young lady that seems to excel in finding opportunities from her challenges in life. In 2011 Sophie became paralysed and a wheelchair user after a severe spinal cord injury. Highly determined though, it is something that has not stopped her. Currently, she has set herself the goal to compete for Great Britain in waterskiing at the world championships in 2021. This is a challenge that we at the CiaO Foundation have been happy to help her with. As such we are pleased to announce we have presented Sophie with a Primrose Award of a new specialised waterski and cage to aid her training and competing.

When Sophie broke her back, it left her paralysed from the chest down and reliant on a wheelchair, as well as dealing with all the challenges that accompany such an injury. Though despite all that she has had to overcome, as her Mum Sarah says “she has grasped life with enormous courage.” Sport has had a major impact on her life, with Sophie regularly skiing, playing tennis and working out at the gym.  Remarkably, and as a great example of Sophie's spirit, in 2014 she set herself a challenge of taking part in a 10km “Run to the Beat” charity fundraiser. A task that many people running would have difficulty with, but definitely not easy for someone in a wheelchair. She completed the event and in doing so raised £5,000 for the Spinal Cord Injury charity Aspire

Currently, Sophie is making huge progress in in the disabled waterskiing arena, even though she has been using borrowed equipment. The Primrose Award of her own specialised equipment will help even more with her new challenge and aim to compete internationally for Great Britain. The Primrose Award was presented by CiaO Foundation's Vice Chair, Andrew Hogge and Trustee Andrew Rogers. After receiving and trying out her new equipment Sophie told us, “I used it on the water for the first time! It’s a brilliant piece of kit and suits me perfectly!” 

 Sophie receives her Primrose Award from CiaO Foundation Vice Chair, Andrew Hogge.

“To people overcoming a challenge, I would say access any support that might be available to them, find a mentor, speak to others who have experienced similar challenges and get advice on how they coped with it. Ensure you are doing what makes you happy in your life as it’s easier to overcome adversity when you’re enjoying what you’re doing.”


Not content in excelling at snow skiing in the winter months, Sophie has now fully committed herself to water-skiing in the spring and summer months. When I suggested this might be too much she replied in her endearing way that plenty of athletes compete in more than one sport … I now suspect we have another Sarah Storey in the making!" 

Andrew Hogge – Vice Chairman, CiaO Foundation