Inspired by a make-up artist who came to the hospital to help burns victims with their skin camouflage techniques, Sophia was determined not to wallow in self-pity. From her ward, she applied to become a make-up artist herself, and just two months after, she learned to walk and she started her Beauty Therapy course.
Having taken a career break to have kids, she then helped set up the charity Kicks Count, supporting other women who’d experienced stillbirths. Afterwards, Sophia realized she didn’t want to go back into the world of "beautiful people". She became trained in permanent makeup to help those who need reconstruction of eyebrows, areolas, or those who have been affected by alopecia and cleft pallet scarring.
She spends most of her spare time volunteering for the charity 'Look Good Feel Better' for women who’ve been through cancer
"After the trauma I went through as a teenager, the rock-bottom lows, I finally feel like I’ve found my calling,” Sophia says. “I honestly feel my meningitis has spurred me on to take on any challenge, to follow my heart and help others.”
Read her amazing story below
“When I was only 16, I was struck down with a rare strain of Meningitis Septicaemia. The infection ravaged my body and to save my life I had to have both my legs and most of my fingers on my right hand amputated.
I spent four months in the hospital, having numerous operations. As the weeks went by, I got stronger and started to get out and about in my wheelchair. Every Monday morning I watched a lady park up outside my window, she was really glamorous and always took two suitcases out of her boot and walked into the burns unit next to my ward.
She would stay for a couple of hours and I’d watch her wheel her cases back to her car and drive away. One day I plucked up courage to ask her where she was going. I made sure that I was up in my chair early and sat patiently outside my room until she appeared. She gave me a big smile and said hello, so I asked her outright “Hello, I’ve seen you come every Monday for weeks, where do you go?”
She told me she was a makeup artist and that she worked in TV and film but in between jobs whenever she could she volunteered for a charity and came to visit the burns unit to show the patients some camouflage techniques. She asked if I’d like to come and watch.
I remember for months I’d lay awake at night, feeling pretty sorry for myself, but I would always hear the cries and screams coming from the burn unit next door. I knew the people in there were in agony, not just physical but mental torture. I knew one day I would be able to get false legs and I would walk again. These people hadn’t just lost their limbs - many of them had such bad burns to their bodies and faces that they had lost their identities and lost a sense of who they were.
It was quite scary going into the burns unit but I also look back and think it really helped me. That was the day I realized there is always someone worse off than me. If I ever, even now have a bad day, if my legs are hurting, I always think about all the other people in the world who are so much worse off than me.
That day I was inspired. This makeup artist spent a few hours of her time with these people teaching them techniques to help them apply specialist products that would help them look after their skin and make them look better. I watched in those few hours these people gain confidence and self-esteem. IT WAS SO AMAZING.
That same year I walked into Guildford College to enroll on a Beauty Therapy course, I trained there for two years then went on to train in media makeup in London and then Special Effects makeup in Shepperton. I can’t say I chose the easiest career for someone with a disability like mine. Media can often be a very superficial industry and the world of fashion and film is full of people who are striving for perfection. I’ve often been faced with harsh comments and whispering when artists have noticed just my missing fingers so for many years I never told people about my artificial legs!
I spent 20 years building a career in hair and makeup styling working with some huge blockbuster stars including Keira Knightly and James McAvoy and traveling the world meeting some fantastic people – but also some less fantastic stars, who would see my hands and refuse to let me work on them. I worked with over 1000 brides on their wedding day but I’ve always had this passion for helping people who have suffered from illness or injury or who simply have self-esteem issues.
Two years ago, my daughter was stillborn which led me establish the Kicks Count charity. From this, I decided to train in Microblading. Instantly I knew this was the direction I should be going. I found my makeup and cosmetic background gave me the confidence to work with skin but also my empathy with those people who had suffered trauma or faced disabilities helped me to grow. I have since trained in Permanent Makeup enabling me to work with scars and skin conditions and am now training in medical tattooing which will allow me to help those with conditions like Alopecia, Cleft Pallet scaring and cancer treatment recovery such as Areola reconstruction tattooing.
I spend much of my spare time volunteering for a wonderful charity called Look Good Feel Better who offer makeup workshops for women going through or recovering from cancer. To take my career full circle I am also looking to train with the Changing Faces charity to enable me to offer courses in Camouflage Makeup.
One client who has been a huge inspiration to me is 19-year-old Laura, who was born with a fast-growing tumor called Haemangioma. The doctors weren’t able to remove the tumor until she had grown up, but sadly she lost the sight in her eye. Throughout her childhood, she had to undergo several reconstruction operations but she was left with scarring. Now Laura is an incredibly active young lady, studying at university and enjoys outdoor sports like surfing. Due to her loss of sight, she struggled to pencil her brows and nothing ever lasted in water so she visited me to find out if microblading could help.
Laura at 2 years old
After two successful Microblading treatments to reconstruct her eyebrow,
Laura is thrilled with the results!
After the trauma that I went through as a teenager, I feel so grateful to be able to wake up in the morning and know that today I am going to make a real difference to someone’s life. It is such a rewarding and humbling position to be in.
Sophia is based in Guildford, Surrey, which is south of London, check out her charities and causes below: