Sophie Willams – Core of the Project

Sophie Willams – Core of the Project

Sophie Willams. She was the core and the center of the project.


Sophie Willams. She was the core and the center of the project.

We have met years ago in Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. She is an incredible educator, and works a lot about conservation subjects.

When I had the idea of travelling to China, she immediately contacted me and asked ‘Why not Orchids?’ and started to tell me about her ideas. While she was telling me her dreams, my China trip started to get better and better.

In 2015, Sophie and I have started to seed all the ideas, we wrote down our plan, and getting more and more excited! In the end, our plan is to ‘Save Orchids’. How can you not get excited?

But, life sometimes can be a very bad joke. And it twisted our ankles so badly. My dearest friend Sophie, very sadly got Japanese encephalitis in June, 2015, because of a single bloody mosquito bite! Since then she is in hospital in a special care unit.

She was in coma for a couple of months, she stop breathing, she couldn’t speak, she couldn’t walk, all the scariest things that you can imagine had happened. But, Sophie is special, and she is a warrior! So slowly she started to do everything we have been told that she can not.

After her situation, I was heart broken, and there was no way I could continue this project on my own. At least I was thinking this way till I have visited her in the hospital. After I saw her, I saw someone perhaps the strongest person I have ever seen, fighting with a biggest challenge of her life. Lying down in the bed with machines and cables around, but all you see is her giant smile, not the cables. This moment was the trigger for me I have decided to continue and complete something that she has started.

Just before Sophie got ill, she had applied a funding for our project, and she got it. Actually this was the last mail she has written me, ‘I got it!!!’ , before she got ill. We had 150.000 RMB to make this project real, thanks to Sophie.

30% of the sale of my original orchid illustrations will go towards the adaption, and medical/mobility equipment that Sophie needs in the future. You can see my orchid Illustrations in the gallery.

So, we had her ideas, we had the funding that she got, I had the courage to continue, only missing part was the team members. It is still something that I can not do it my own, as our project was all about surveys, a research projects. But also, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG), where she was working part time, was also willing to continue to this project. It was so great to see that everyone in XTBG was come together to help this project. So we were ready to continue with our new team!

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