Mary King donates saddle to help fund girl’s lifesaving treatment

  • Eventer Mary King has donated a top of the range signed saddle to help fund lifesaving treatment for a girl suffering from anorexia.

    Sophie Hartwell (pictured) is currently responding well to treatment in America, having not benefited from the UK approach to the condition, but her family needs funds to allow this £12,000 per month treatment, as well as £400 per week medication, to continue.

    It is hoped the auction of Mary’s donation, a brand new saddle created by Philip Dutton and Ronald Zabala-Goetschel, should help boost the fund (see below for details of how to bid).

    Sophie’s grandfather Anthony Hartwell told H&H Sophie’s sister Emma worked for Mary and Emily King for some years, and that the family is very grateful for the “very kind” donation of the saddle.

    “If the Sophie Hartwell Trust could achieve 50% of the saddle’s retail value, it would be a tremendous boost and of course it would be an excellent buy for an enthusiastic rider,” he said.

    “But as the trust was given the saddle by Mary King, to whom we are all very grateful, to raise funds, any reasonable amount of money would be gratefully received.”

    Mr Hartwell explained that NHS treatment “couldn’t help” Sophie.

    “That’s why we sent her to America,” he added. “She’s been there seven months and they think it will be another two to five months – and we need to raise another £100,000.”

    Sophie’s mother Diane said the family flies to America to visit every four to five weeks, as “that’s an important part of her recovery”.

    “We didn’t have any choice but for her to go there,” she told H&H. “If she hadn’t, we wouldn’t have her now.

    “Every time I see her, I see an improvement, it’s wonderful, but to take her away now would mean the past few months had been for nothing.

    “She can get better and she will get better; we’ve always believed that – but she has to continue her treatment.”

    The lightweight jumping saddle, which has a changeable gullet and WISAIR airflow system, is signed by Phillip Dutton and would normally sell for £2,200.

    Anyone interested should email their highest bid to sophie183@yahoo.com and the highest, at 7pm on 25 April, will win the saddle. A reserve of £750 has been set.

    Mary King told H&H the Hartwells live “very close” to her base in Devon, and that Emma was a “wonderful” employee.

    “They’re so supportive of Sophie and do everything they can to help her get better,” she said. “But it all costs money and Sophie’s best chance of improving is very expensive.

    “Donating the saddle was the least we could do.”

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