By Linda Foo Guest
A SCULPTURE dedicated to a Wirral schoolgirl was unveiled on Monday.
The special sculpture was commissioned by Hilbre High School in memory of Sophia Elizabeth Thornton, who died suddenly in January last year.
The 11-year-old from West Kirby was born with cerebral palsy and was in Year Seven at the school on Frankby Road, West Kirby.
The sculpture shows a bandana – Sophia’s trademark accessory she would wear around her neck.
Her father, John, told Wirral News: “Sophia was taken ill on the Friday morning and passed away that evening at Arrowe Park Hospital. It was so sudden, it was utterly devastating.
“Sophia always wore a bandana – it was an aspect of her which everyone who knew her would recognise.”
Sculptor and metalworker Wolfgang Eibl, from West Kirby, created the carving free of charge.
Following Sophia’s death, classmates named a star in her honour, and a small steel bandana was created to represent the Sophia Thornton Prize for Inclusiveness at the school’s prize-giving in October. This new sculpture is a permanent tribute to the youngster with a pattern based on one of Sophia’s bandanas, and the location of her star in the base.
Wolfgang added: “The school fund available wouldn’t cover the costs involved and when the school explained the situation I realised they were talking about Sophia, who I knew as a neighbour. So I decided to donate my time free of charge.
“It took 2½ weeks to create the sculpture, but I feel both proud and honoured to have been involved in this project.”
The sculpture sits within an outdoor area at the heart of the school.
Sophia’s family, friends, classmates and teachers attended the ceremony, as well as West Kirby Guides where Sophia was also a member. Jane Doyle, of Hilbre High, said: “It is a lovely reminder to all the pupils and staff that knew Sophia, it will allow her spirit and memory to continue to exist in school everyday.”
Sophia, a tetraplegic, had to use a wheelchair and communicate via a voice synthesiser but never let physical disability stop her from doing what she wanted.
John added: “She’d always attended mainstream school, first St Bridget’s then Hilbre.
“She was a keen Guide, and loved doing all the things a typical 11-year- old does, which often involved gossip and shopping.
“She was the centre of our lives and we are still trying to learn how to cope without her. But I’m delighted that we now have such a fitting tribute to our wonderful daughter.
“I’d like to thank the school for their tremendous efforts in raising funds for the materials and Wolfgang for generously donating his time.”