One of the country’s most talented young tennis players has died after suffering an allergic reaction.
Nine-year-old Sadie Bristow was playing with her family at Whitstable Castle when she went into anaphylactic shock.
She was rushed to hospital by her parents and airlifted to St George’s Hospital in London, but despite the efforts of doctors, she did not recover.
Sadie was a rising tennis star who was ranked by the Lawn Tennis Association as the top nine-and-under player in the country, and won dozens of regional and county tournaments.
The tragedy, which happened on August 19, has devastated her parents Stewart and Clare Bristow, who now want to raise awareness of potentially dangerous allergies and create a foundation in her memory.
They are also organising a special day in Chartham, where the family lives, to celebrate her life.
Stewart, 45, who coaches tennis at the King’s School Recreation Centre in Canterbury and Bridge Tennis Club, says that although his daughter had a dairy intolerance which they managed, there had been no specific trigger on the day she died.
“She was just playing outside when she came in and told us she wasn’t well,” he said.
“We decided she needed to go to hospital and took her ourselves to the Estuary View Medical Centre in Whitstable because it was quickest and from there she went to Margate Hospital and then St George’s.
“Anaphylactic shock shuts down the airways very quickly and she did not respond to treatment despite being administered with 16 shots of adrenaline, which is the first course of action.
“It is very rare and I think even the doctors were taken aback by the speed of it.”
Sadie’s funeral took place last week with a private family ceremony. But the couple are determined there will be a lasting legacy for their remarkable daughter.
And their ambition is being fuelled by the overwhelming support for a fundraising page - www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sadie-bristow - set up in her memory which has so far raised more than £17,000.
Stewart said: “Sadie’s passion, drive and determination got her there and we will do all we can in the same spirit to set up a charitable organisation or foundation in her name to carry on with her passion in tennis and aid allergy understanding, research and prevention.
“The donations so generously given will help us hugely and we are so grateful for the support and love that is giving us courage.”
Sadie attended Chartham Primary School and has an older sister Charlotte, 11, and baby sister, April, 1.
News of her death was broken to parents of children returning to her school this week by the head teacher to help prepare her classmates
Executive head Dean Jones wrote: “This is the most difficult letter I have ever had to write. It is with great sadness that I inform you that Sadie Bristow passed away on Monday, following an anaphylactic reaction.
“Although she had not been with us for very long, Sadie was always full of fun, kindness and positivity and showed a determined spirit to excel in everything she approached. Her incredible achievements in county tennis are testament to this.”
Stewart says that Sadie was on the tennis court as soon as she could walk and quickly picked up a racket and developed a passion for the game.
“It’s not just me who thought she was a special talent because other LTA coaches saw it in her too and she was being fast tracked to develop that promise.
“She was only petite but physically and mentally strong on the court, showing great determination which would win her matches against bigger or more technically capable players.”
Last year she won more than 40 regional and county tournaments across the country.
“Sadie and I were on a journey and she was so determined and focused. She never tired and never gave anything less that 100%,” said Stewart.
“But she was also very humble and modest and loved to help other younger players on the court.”
The family are planning a memorial event for Sadie at Chartham village hall on Sunday, September 16. when there will be games and activities for children, and the things she enjoyed doing away from the tennis courts to help celebrate her life.