Co Down woman plans to open dedicated eating disorder therapy centre in memory of daughter

The mother of a Co Down woman who died after a seven year battle with bulimia has launched a fundraising campaign to open

Northern Ireland's first dedicated therapy centre to help others.

 Sharon Bridges, whose 21-year-old daughter Sophie died in March following a seven-year battle with bulimia, has launched a fundraising campaign to raise £250,000 to open Northern Ireland's first dedicated therapy centre to help young people suffering with eating disorders. Picture by Mal Mc

 The mother-of-four has launched a fundraising drive to raise £250,000 to fund the plans for the centre which, will not only offer help to young people with eating disorders and addictions but, will on survivors of sexual abuse or violence.

 The aim is for the residential holistic-style centre to operate on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year, offering art and music therapy, drama therapy, dance, yoga, meditation, creative writing, horticultural and animal therapy and with a focus on counselling and talk therapies.

 Mrs Bridges launched the plans yesterday two months after the death of her daughter, who was a former pupil at Assumption Grammar in Ballynahinch.

 Sophie, who had battled anorexia and later bulimia for seven years, was found dead in her bedroom on Saturday, March 17, after suffering a heart attack.

 On two occasions in 2009 doctors told Mrs Bridges that her daughter had just weeks to live as her organs were shutting down.

 Her then teenage daughter continued to battle the illness but in 2016, she suffered the horrendous ordeal of being raped in Co Down.

 Mrs Bridges, who revealed her daughter "never once received one counselling session", said more needed to be done to help young people with eating disorders.

 Speaking to the Irish News last night, Mrs Bridges said she was hoping people would "come on board" and support the fundraising campaign.

 "I want to give people somewhere to go because there's isn't anything available in the health service," she said.

 "Whenever I looked for Sophie, the only option was England and it's extremely expensive.You're talking way above what a normal person can afford to do."


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