Sunday Spotlight: Sophie Grace Holmes

March 4, 2022 3:46 pm

In the UK today, more than 10,000 people suffer from the life-threatening lung disease cystic
fibrosis – that’s one in every 2500 babies born. For Sophie Grace Holmes, this tragic condition
has been her reality.

Now using her life experience to help give others a voice, the podcast host tells Alex’s Wish
trustee Tom Carter her inspirational story of struggle, adventure, and why 2022 is the year to be

Q: Cystic fibrosis is a disease that affects so many people in the country – what has it
been like growing up and living with the condition?

A: When I was first diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, my parents were told I wouldn’t live past 16.
So growing up I was on 80 tablets a day, always in and out of hospital, but I saw that as normal.
Especially how at school PE was my favourite – I was always winning everything, so I didn’t
think I had anything wrong with me. Then when I was 19 I was given two years to live. Doctors
told me not to dream or have aspirations. I was told I would die, and that cystic fibrosis would
take control of me. Now being 30 I have overcome a lot of battles, and that’s the story behind all
the crazy challenges I do and why I’ve got this career. I’m very grateful for it.

Q: Regardless of your condition and doctors’ predictions you’ve gone on to do some
remarkable things. Do you have any particular highlights from your adventures?

A: When I was told I was going to die, I drew up a very long bucket list of things I wanted to do.
Since then I’ve climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, gone paddleboarding all the way
from the Bahamas to Florida in one go (even though it was my first time doing it in the sea), and
completed ultramarathons. Once I was also given two weeks’ notice to climb Mont Blanc, which
was amazing. I met people from around the world and learned so many valuable skills. Up
there, above the clouds, it was pure silence. These challenges were my way of getting
physically and mentally stronger. I look back and think if I never had cystic fibrosis, I wouldn’t
have the ambition, the drive and the excitement around doing those things.

Q: You mentioned that your first time paddleboarding in the sea was over a 504km
distance – what was that like?

A: In hindsight it (the decision) was a bit silly! But it was such a rollercoaster of emotions, in which
you push yourself to the point of questioning your entire life choices. When the sun came up
and there were no islands or buildings around, just an endless horizon, I thought “I’m never
going to be here again”. It was phenomenal.

Q: Recently you took on a new project and started a podcast – what can listeners expect
from the show?

A: I launched my podcast, Leave You Breathless, in January. I wanted to share amazing
stories of people who have faced huge adversity, and talk about how they’ve done that. This is
what life is about – we all have battles and struggles but your perception is the difference. I love
delving into the mindset, as everyone’s is different but it can get you to such powerful places.
Some of the guests on the show include a member of the Team GB wheelchair basketball
squad, a man who changed his life around after a friend’s suicide, and somebody with cystic
fibrosis that has climbed to the summit of Mount Everest. We’ve been through so much,
especially recent years with Covid-19, so when I hear the stories of others it makes me want to
take on the world.

Q: And finally – what are you doing this year to #BeMoreAlex?

A: Alex’s Wish is a charity I feel very relatable to, and can understand the why behind it. My
motto this year is “to be bold”. It’s very easy to sit back, be scared to take risks. To be scared to
push yourself and just let life happen. Life goes by so fast. I’m a firm believer of seeking
opportunity and your own luck. If you want to go out there and seek a different life, you have to
be bold and be ready to do the things that scare the hell out of you. No one that embarks on a
journey to succeed is ever truly ready. That’s why my mission this year is to be bold, say yes to
opportunities that scare and excite me, and see where I end up. Until you open (or shut) doors,
you never know who you’re going to be, and I want to find out.

You can find out more about Sophie’s podcast here:

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