Brave Terri's story - ten years on

TEN years ago a fire ripped through Terri Calvesbert's home as she slept, changing her life forever.Today the brave burns victim shows no bitterness about what she has endured, but has instead embraced life and achieved more than her loved ones could ever have hoped for.

TEN years ago a fire ripped through Terri Calvesbert's home as she slept, changing her life forever.

Today the brave burns victim shows no bitterness about what she has endured, but has instead embraced life and achieved more than her loved ones could ever have hoped for.

She is enjoying school at Westbourne Sports College and is devoted to her new dog, Doodles.

Courageous Terri, who will turn 12 on Monday, said: “I don't know anything about what happened, I don't remember it.

“Some times have been hard. The hardest was when I was going into hospital and I didn't know what was happening.

“I'm happy now and I think I'm just like my friends.”

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Meanwhile proud dad Paul, who can remember the tragedy all too clearly, said he would be trying desperately to block out the painful memories of November 21, 1998.

He said: “I remember exactly what happened, but I try not to think about it.

“After the fire I went into autopilot. I stayed like that almost until she came out of hospital, eight or nine months later.

“At the time nobody knew what would happen and we were always warned of the worst.

“We didn't know if she would live, if she would walk or talk.

“She had to learn to do it all again - but she has done so much better than I expected.”

Things got even better for Terri in June when she gained a loving stepmum, Nicky.

Terri said: “Life's got better since then. We can do stuff together if I don't want my dad to know about it, like shopping and proper girly stuff!”

Now the family are able to look to a bright future.

Terri hopes to go to college and eventually become a zookeeper.

She added: “I would like to stay close to my dad, but maybe live with other people.”

Have you got a message of support for Terri? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

November 1998 - Baby Terri is just 18 months old when she suffers 85 per cent burns in a fire at her home in Chantry, Ipswich. Days later, the Evening Star's Baby Terri appeal is launched and the money starts to flood in.

July 1999 - After enduring seven months of operations and intensive treatment at the burns unit at Chelmsford's Broomfield Hospital, the plucky two-year-old returns home to live with her father Paul at her grandparents' home.

October 1999 - Little Terri meets Falkland's hero Simon Weston who suffered horrific injuries when his ship, the Sir Galahad, was bombed in June 1982.

June 2000 - The youngster faces another battle when she is rushed to hospital after developing an abscess on her body.

August 2000 - Brave Terri returns to hospital to undergo three hours of plastic surgery to help rebuild her damaged face.

September 2001 - It is a proud day as Terri starts school at Whitehouse Infants.

October 2001 - After spending two years protecting her head with hats, Terri gets her very own wig fitted.

December 2001 - Terri gets a hug from Prime Minister's wife Cherie Blair as one of ten Children of Courage Award winners.

March 2002 - The Baby Terri Appeal reaches £100,000 and is still growing.

December 2002 - Terri gets a well-deserved trip to Lapland to meet Santa Claus.

June 2003 - Terri's life story is covered in an Anglia TV programme, Real Life: Being Terri. Following the programme around £11,000 flooded into the Evening Star offices for the appeal fund.

November 2003 - Terri has yet another operation to create fingers on her burned hands. The fingers are only cosmetic but will hopefully enable her to hold a pen eventually. Metal pins were inserted but had to be taken out following an infection.

December 2003 - A worldwide sponsored swim, organised by London businessman Rob Mather, raises more than £100,000 for the Terri Appeal. More than 70 countries took part.

March 2004 - Terri gets a Children of Courage honour at the Pride of Britain Awards in London, meeting celebrities such as Ozzie Osbourne and Sarah, Duchess of York.

March 2007 - Terri appears in a television show about brave ten-year-olds.

June 2008 - Terri's dreams come true as she acts as a bridesmaid as her dad, Paul, marries Nicky Lowry.

The Terri Calvesbert appeal

MONEY continues to pour in to the Terri Calvesbert appeal.

The trust fund, which has invested cash from the appeal, looks after an amazing nest-egg for her future.

In the bank today sits an incredible £355,000 - and it's all thanks to you.

The Star launched the appeal in the days immediately after the horrific blaze at the Calvesbert's Chantry home ten years ago.

Originally, it was only intended to raise £5,000, but despite the passage of time, donations continue to arrive even today, surpassing everything the Star ever imagined.

Terri was so badly injured in the blaze that firefighers thought it was a doll lying in the cot - until she suddenly made a noise.

Doctors battled to save her life but she was left with 85 per cent burns.

The money is being kept in a trust fund managed by a board of trustees, including Star editor Nigel Pickover, a firm of solicitors, and Terri's relatives. The fund has remained virtually untouched, paying out for a computer to help her school work but little else so far.

The Terri Calvesbert Appeal's bank balance will come into its own as she grows older, to help improve her quality of life. For example, it could be used to help adapt a home for her when she grows up, enabling her to become an independent woman.

To donate to the Terri Calvesbert appeal make cheques payable to the Terri Calvesbert appeal, c/o Michelle Dorrell, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

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