Inspiring Terri Calvesbert, who suffered 90% burns as a child, reveals wedding plans
PUBLISHED: 19:53 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:12 18 March 2020
Brave Terri Calvesbert, who suffered 90% burns as a baby after a fire broke out at her Ipswich home, will be marrying her “best friend and soulmate” this summer.
Terri, now 23, was just 18 months old when she was burned in a catastrophic fire. Her story captured the hearts of the nation.
There were doubts whether she would survive the injuries, but she has had more than 50 operations to help repair her damaged skin.
Now, more than 20 years on, animal-lover Terri has embraced her life and is getting married to her partner Richard Holmes, 43, who she says is “the kind of man everyone wants”.
She said: “I’m really excited about the wedding. Obviously I’m going to be nervous on the day but I can’t wait to be with my friends and family.
“I’ve always wanted to get married but I never thought this would happen at my age, especially to me.”
Terri, who now lives in Halstead with her fiancée, grew up in Ipswich and went to Westbourne Academy, before studying animal care at Otley College.
Over the years Terri’s story has led to her winning countless awards for her bravery and an appeal by the Ipswich Star collected thousands of pounds to help with her lifetime of care.
‘I never thought I could be a mum’
Terri said she will never truly know what happened on the night of the fire as she was too young to remember, but admits she “doesn’t know any different” about her physical appearance.
“When it comes to that night in November I kind of get a horrible feeling inside,” said Terri. “But that’s the only time it really affects me.
“What happened does stay with me, but I’m really proud of myself for what I have achieved.”
Terri met her husband-to-be Richard on Facebook around five years ago and the pair “hit it off” instantly, establishing a strong connection and falling in love.
Whilst she was studying at Otley College, she fell pregnant with her daughter Poppy-Mae, now aged three, who Terri says is her “miracle” child. The family are keen to keep Poppy-Mae away from the limelight as she starts school.
“It’s scary to be a mum and I never thought I would be able to be one,” admitted Terri. “But it is great and I love it. She’s a good girl.”
Two years ago, at Terri’s 21st birthday party, her partner and full-time carer Richard got down on one knee and popped the question – catching Terri slightly off-guard.
‘No one thought we would get this far’
Now the pair are just months away from their summer wedding on Saturday, July 18, which will see more than 100 friends and family members come together to celebrate the couple’s future.
“He is everything to me,” said Terri, who volunteers three days a week at the RSPCA charity shop in Sudbury and owns two beloved dogs. “He’s my best friend and soulmate.”
“In previous relationships my partners have never really understood me or what happened to me. Obviously I’ve only got the one leg now, but Richard took it really well and he understands me.
“But no one thought we would get this far as a couple.”
In recent years, Terri has been targeted by “trolls” on social media, but the inspirational young woman says she is keeping her head held high.
More: Brave Terri Calvesbert hits out against online trolls after she is targeted on social media
“Sometimes it has been difficult to build relationships with people, especially when I was younger. But I’m much more confident in myself now,” said Terri, who wears a blonde wig after losing her hair in the fire.
Her husband-to-be Richard says he loves everything about his fiancée Terri and calls her a “fighter”.
“I could never meet a nicer woman than Terri,” beamed the 43-year-old. “I can’t wait to marry her and I’m really excited about the big day. It has taken a lot of planning.”
How years of support ‘means so much’
Terri continues to undergo operations to help heal her damaged skin, but the 23-year-old says she has become more comfortable in how she looks.
“I wouldn’t take my leg off at first in front of Richard,” admitted Terri. “But he made me feel really comfortable very quickly and now I take my wig and my leg off at night.
“He really does love me.”
Terri has been overwhelmed by the support she has received over the years from friends, family and people all over the world.
She said: “The trust fund has been amazing, I have lost count of how much money people have raised for me.
“I have also been really surprised about how many people continue to send me nice messages of support. I even get messages now on Facebook still, with people from Canada or America, which is crazy. It means so much to me.”
Once married, Richard and Terri are hoping to find a bigger home in Halstead, with Terri looking into going back to college to continue her animal care course.
Terri also says she wants another dog in the future – and will continue her work with the RSPCA.
• Any donations for Terri should be made by cheque payable to ‘Terri Calvesbert Appeal Trust’ and c/o Kerseys Solicitors LLP, 32 Lloyds Avenue, Ipswich, IP1 3HD.