TO LOOK at Sophie Collins, you would be forgiven for thinking she was the same as any other healthy 21-year-old woman.
But the student has an acquired brain injury that has left her unable to go a full day without sleeping midway through, forgetting to eat and drink, and with epilepsy.
Miss Collins, from East Oxford, was in a car accident when she was 11. The crash caused a cardiac arrest that starved her brain of oxygen and resulted in her condition.
Her mother Shenda Collins said although her daughter had made a better-than-expected recovery, she would never be the same as her peers.
She said: “Sophie still suffers a range of difficulties that are not immediately obvious when you meet her.
“Most people’s first impression of Sophie is that she is articulate, polite and healthy.
“Yet she battles extreme fatigue and needs to have sleeps during the day, and has poor memory, which means she can forget to eat and drink. She also has trouble with self organisation and suffers from epilepsy.
“The hidden nature of these conditions means that people disregard her difficulties, assuming she can function like any other 21-year-old, and this causes great frustration.”
Since her accident, Miss Collins has been supported by the Child Brain Injury Trust which, like her, is 21 this year.
The charity helps thousands of children and young people with acquired brain injury by providing specialist support and information.
This year it hopes to raise £210,000 – £10,000 for each year it has been in operation.
To thank the trust for its help, Mrs Collins – who is an image consultant – has been offering mini colour analysis sessions for 21 people in return for a donation.
Later this month she will host a talk on image at Oxford University, which she hopes could also boost the coffers.
Mrs Collins said: “During the sessions people can discover their most flattering colours, so they can choose clothes that suit them and enhance their appearance and self esteem.
“It is about giving something back to the trust.”
Sophie, now studying psychology and counselling at Swansea Metropolitan Universityd, said: “It’s been very frustrating that people do not understand all the difficulties that I suffer – especially fatigue.
“But the Child Brain Injury Trust has been very supportive in understanding the issue and helping others to understand.”
To donate to the trust or host a fundraising event, visit the website childbraininjurytrust.org.uk
The private talk will be held at Littlegate House, St Ebbe’s Street, on October 24. To donate to Mrs Collins’ cause, visit justgiving.com/ColourfulFundraising21