Shamiam stars in BBC’s Inside Out on Monday

Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif and BBC Inside Out presenter Sophie Sulehria
Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif and BBC Inside Out presenter Sophie Sulehria

Luton’s brave burns survivor Shamiam Arif is to appear in a special episode of BBC One’s Inside Out on Monday (January 11) at 7.30pm, writes Bev Creagh.

The programme’s new presenter, Sophie Sulehria, was so impressed by the courageous teenager when she interviewed her for BBC 3CR that she said Shamiam’s story was the first she wanted to follow after joining the regional current affairs show.

The 13-year-old Challney High schoolgirl was badly burned as a baby in Kashmir when a candle fell into her cot. Her skull was burned down to the lining of her brain and she lost both hands in the blaze. But she’s growing into a fiercely independent young girl who impresses everyone who meets her.

Sophie said: “I was so inspired by her attitude and the way she copes so well under adversity. And when I heard she was going to have a wig to replace the helmet she’s worn most of her life, it felt like a big moment in her life. It marked a new start.”

Inside Out has followed Shamiam’s journey from getting the protective head piece made at Great Ormond Street Hospital – it slips into a special pocket in the wig – to the final fitting.

It was custom made by Liz Finan and her team at Raoul Wigmakers in London and the cost was covered by The Little Princess Trust.

Sophie said: “The programme touches on Shamiam’s past. It includes interviews with her mum Tahira and dad Arif, as well as footage from when she lived in Kotli as a little girl.”

She added: “I was repeatedly reminded of just how brave and independent she is. There’s nothing she can’t do, or overcome, and I feel privileged to know her.

“The wig looks fantastic and she seems so happy to be able to look like - and I quote - a ‘normal’ girl now. Of course she was always a normal girl and I hope the wig gives her the confidence to feel it inside herself.”

> Inside Out: Shamiam will be on BBC One on Monday (January 11) at 7.30pm.