Terri really is Little Miss Independent!

When it comes to her tantrums and demands for independence, Terri Calvesbert today bears all the hallmarks of a youngster entering their terrible teens.

IPSWICH: When it comes to her tantrums and demands for independence, Terri Calvesbert today bears all the hallmarks of a youngster entering their terrible teens.

But for her dad and stepmum, Terri's adolescent strops are a blessing in disguise - traits of welcome normality in an otherwise turbulent life.

For brave Terri has overcome horrific injuries which she sustained when a fire ripped through her Chantry home more than 11 years ago.

Terri, then just 18 months old, was left with 85 per cent burns to her body and has endured many gruelling operations with a grace and courage which touched the world.

As the brave youngster today celebrates her 13th birthday, her dad Paul told how she acts like any other teenager.

He said: “She answers back and has little tantrums. When we say it's time to go to bed she says 'no', stomps around the house and slams doors. She wants to do what she wants to do.

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“How she would mature was one of the things we couldn't answer. But everything seems to be going normally.

“We couldn't ask for anything better than that.”

Terri admits she is “sometimes naughty”, but added: “I feel happier now because at first I didn't think I could do anything, but now I am getting on better than I used to do.”

Paul, 36, puts Terri's growth in confidence down to starting at Westbourne Sports College, where she is successfully adapting to life around older children.

She is also enjoying a stable home environment with stepmum Nicky, 41, whom Paul married in June last year, and is devoted to her dog Doodles.

Paul, of Shakespeare Road, Ipswich, said: “Terri has got her own individual character and tries to do things in her own way. She is getting more independent.

“We will drop her off at a friend's house or at a party and she will stay there on her own. Before, we would have to stay with her.”

Thoughts have even turned to a future many thought Terri may never have enjoyed.

Paul, who is Terri's full-time carer, said: “Hopefully she will be able to do anything other 18-year-olds do.

“Hopefully she will have a house on her own by then. She could be driving and maybe even seeing someone. Who knows?”

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

GENEROUS donations totalling more than �360,000 have ensured Terri's development into womanhood goes as smoothly as possible.

A trust fund, which has invested cash from an appeal launched by the Star in the days after the horrific fire, will be used to improve her quality of life.

One option is to buy and adapt a home as she becomes more independent.

Originally, the appeal was only intended to raise �5,000, but Terri's worldwide story has prompted an overwhelming number of donations.

The trust fund is being managed by a board of trustees, including Star editor Nigel Pickover, a firm of solicitors, and Terri's relatives.

The fund has so far paid out for a computer to help her with school work.

November 21, 1998 - Terri suffers burns to 85 per cent of her body as a fire sweeps through her Chantry home.

July, 1999 - It was touch and go whether Terri would survive, but after seven months in hospital and several life-saving skin grafts, she returns home to live with her father at his parents' house.

August 2000 - Terri undergoes three hours of plastic surgery to rebuild her damaged face.

July 2003 - Terri is invited to a tea party in London, where she meets Joan Collins, Sarah, Duchess of York, and Bruce Forsyth.

The event was organised for the Shooting Stars Children's Hospice.

July 2007 - Terri's mother Julie speaks out in a national magazine for the first time about how she walked out on the family because she was racked with guilt.

June 2008 - Terri is a bridesmaid at her dad's wedding to stepmum Nicky.

September 2008 - Terri starts at Westbourne Sports College.