Phoebe defies the odds to pass ballet exam

Despite being told her condition would prevent her from walking, a Tattershall youngster has defied the odd to not only walk, but pass ballet exams.

Phoebe Roberts passing her Primary Ballet exam at Dance 10.
Phoebe Roberts passing her Primary Ballet exam at Dance 10.

Phoebe Roberts, 9, was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus (a build up of fluid on the brain), and had her first surgery when she was just three days old and was not expected to even walk.

But walk she did by the time she was three years old, and also takes part in dancing lessons at Dance10 Dance Studio in Horncastle.

And now, she has defied the odds even further by passing her Primary Ballet exam along with her classmates (see page 6 for more), and Dance 10 director Jacqui Boddy said they are all “extremely proud” of Phoebe:

"Phoebe continues to inspire us with her determination as a dancer with a disability, she is a tremendous joy to teach,” she said.

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“Despite the challenges that she faces, she continues to smile and dance her way throughout life.

"She works so hard and always has a smile on her face, she really is fantastic.”

Last year, Phoebe was in desperate need of a new electric wheelchair as the manual wheelchair is difficult for her to use but as she was not eligible for one on the NHS, her family embarked on a fundraising campaign to raise the £8,500 needed to purchase Phoebe’s new electric wheelchair themselves.

Thanks to the generosity of the community who have held fundraising events and private donations, they reached their fundraising total in less than a month.

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But now, Phoebe faces her biggest obstacle yet as later this month, she is scheduled for a pioneering but risky operation which could straighten her spine and re-align her ribs – but there is a chance she may not be able to walk.

The 12-hour surgery at Sheffield Children’s Hospital will see incisions made in Phoebe’s front to remove and then realign her ribs to correct the curve, but it is risky as this has never been done on anyone with this type of spina bifida before.

Phoebe’s mum Rebecca said: “She’s taking everything in her stride and is quite comfortable with the operation.

"We’ve spent so long waiting for this and fighting for her to have the surgery, it’s all becoming so real now.”