Elizabeth Soffe’s story — Her inspirational tale

Elizabeth Soffe

Elizabeth Soffe doesn’t remember life without scars, yet, as demonstrated by her Child of Courage award win, she hasn’t let adversity keep her down. Soffe brought attendees and home viewers of the Pride of Britain award show to tears when she collected the award. “It was a big surprise,” Soffe told host Carol Vorderman. 

“We’re always envisaging something that might be difficult for her, and she’ll totally prove us wrong every single time. She’s amazing, she wows us every day and the fact she wants to help others is just so her. This award means the world to her – and us,” Sinead, Elizabeth’s mom, said.

Elizabeth suffered third-degree burns on over 60% of her body as a six-month-old baby


Elizabeth’s parents, Liam and Sinead, lived in Doha, Qatar, when Elizabeth was born. One day, Sinead placed Elizabeth in her cot and left. “About 30 seconds later, she heard her crying, so she went back into the room. Everything was on fire, the cot was on dire, Elizabeth was on fire,” Liam said on Good Morning Britain

A faulty air conditioning unit had sparked the fire on Soffe’s cot. Sinead called an ambulance, and when they got to the hospital, the situation seemed bleak. The doctors informed Elizabeth’s parents that she might not survive. 

No hospital in Doha had the equipment to treat Elizabeth’s burns, so doctors placed her in a coma. Five days later, she was flown to the UK to receive treatment in the specialist unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. 

Liam and Sinead spent six months alongside Elizabeth in intensive care as their other children – Danny, Amelia, and William – lived with their grandparents. Per The Mirror, Sinead said:

“Before the accident, life was normal. She was a perfect baby and everything had just slotted into place for us. But in the blink of an eye it was thrown into the air. In the tiny space between putting her down to sleep then walking down the stairs everything was on fire and our life had completely changed.”

The family relocated to Birmingham after realizing that Elizabeth would need specialist care throughout her life. Elizabeth has had 80 operations since the accident and will require many others, yet she never complains. 

Elizabeth learned she would receive a Pride of Britain award after meeting her racing hero, Daniel Ricciardo, at the McLaren Technology Center in Woking, Surrey. “It feels like I was dreaming,” Elizabeth said. “It’s the best day of my life.”

Elizabeth did a virtual lap of Britain’s Silverstone circuit on a simulator with Daniel’s help. “To have such drive and determination at that age is really impressive,” Daniel said. “It was a privilege to meet her. It feels like there’s not even words that will do enough justice to describe what she’s done.”

It wasn’t easy for Elizabeth to run a marathon due to her scarring

Elizabeth Soffe’s parents, Liam and Sinead

Elizabeth’s parents came up with the idea for a fundraiser. The couple, who’d lost everything due to the fire, had benefited from people’s generosity as they tried to rebuild their lives. They opted to give back in a manner that mattered to Elizabeth. 

Therefore, they set up a fundraiser to purchase a Co2 fractional laser machine for Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The machine breaks up scars using lasers, reducing scar tightness and aiding the patient’s movement. “They couldn’t get funding for it, we wanted to raise money for something big and something Elizabeth could understand, so this was the thing,” Liam said.

Elizabeth ran a mile a day at her local park and, during coronavirus isolation, 73 laps of her garden, completing a marathon in 26 days. Sinead revealed it wasn’t easy for Elizabeth to run because of her high potential for overheating:

“It was really hot and people with scarring like Elizabeth overheat really quickly. You’d see her going from white to bright pink so that made it tougher. We’d cool her with the hose as she ran around.”

Furthermore, the stiffness in Elizabeth’s joints presented another challenge. Sinead continued: “Elizabeth also has scarring over her joints which makes them stiff. So on top of being seven, having her scarring and the intense heat, she did an amazing job. She didn’t moan at all.”

Elizabeth’s initial target was 1000 pounds; she raised 215,000 pounds, helping the hospital that saved her life acquire a potentially life-changing machine. By all accounts, she deserved her Pride of Britain award. Sinead said:

“That’s the beauty of this award, that people are seeing that she’s not just a little girl who is scarred, she’s something way bigger than that. We think she’s amazing, but it’s the icing on the cake that other people have recognised her for being as fabulous as we think she is.”

Elizabeth said on Good Morning Britain that her enthusiasm for running had faded, adding that her interest lies in motor racing. She said she likes racing because it’s dangerous and aspires to become a Formula 1 driver. 

Soffe plans to raise more money for charity

Soffe isn’t slowing down: she and her family are attempting to walk half a million steps to raise money for a virtual reality headset that can be used to distract children undergoing treatment. She also raises awareness and funds for the Scar Free Foundation. Her parents write on the foundation’s website:

“The Scar Free Foundation’s aim for a scar free future is a fantastic goal. To eliminate the restrictive movement, the pain, the itch and the disfigurement caused by scars would be life changing for children like Elizabeth. What the Scar Free Foundation can do is raise awareness of the effect that scarring has on children and adults and move medical treatments forward massively through research and funding.”

Sinead said the parents’ initial instinct was to hide Elizabeth from the world: they were scared of the negativity. However, she overcame the misfortune, providing hope and inspiration for millions. 

Judge Shirley Ballas of Strictly Come Dancing told Elizabeth: “I thank you for inspiring me, you are absolutely adorable. You are such an unbelievable spirit and we are all so proud. You are beautiful in every way and with a heart that shines.”

Elizabeth’s parents write that some people react negatively to her, but she often changes their mindsets. “As soon as they see her smile and interact with her, they see that she is just a normal, cheeky, adventurous and loving child,” they write. 

Elizabeth admits to feeling saddened by mean comments but finds joy knowing she is better on the inside than the bullies. She writes:

“I know that I am beautiful and funny and have a lovely smile. It doesn’t matter that I was burnt when I was a baby or that I only have one ear or that I look different. It only matters that I am kind and happy and amazing.”