Terri's brave struggle goes on

TERRI Calvesbert's smiling face is now familiar to millions across the world.Her courage and determination cross national boundaries, and donations to our appeal continue to flood in as her story touches hearts across the globe.

TERRI Calvesbert's smiling face is now familiar to millions across the world.

Her courage and determination cross national boundaries, and donations to our appeal continue to flood in as her story touches hearts across the globe.

Today, as that appeal fund crosses another huge milestone of £400,000, SARAH GILLETT looks finds out how the money will be used in future.

WHEN The Evening Star launched the Terri Calvesbert Appeal Fund back in 1998, nobody could have predicted the response it would receive.

It was originally intended to raise £5,000 but the donations kept coming and it became one of the biggest regional newspaper fundraisers that Britain has ever seen.

Eight years since the fund was created, the money has not stopped coming in, and the appeal today smashed through the £400,000 barrier. Donations received so far total £358,291 and when interest and other things like Premium Bond winnings are added, this figure stands at £407,437.

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Terri's dad Paul is constantly astonished at the generosity of strangers. He said: “It's an amazing amount. At the moment we just use the fund to buy things like her wigs and any specialist equipment she needs, like special shoes.

“As she grows up it will become more important. When Terri leaves school and wants her independence it could be used to adapt a house for her, or help fund her through college or university. It means we will be able to help her as she goes along.”

The appeal has received a huge boost in recent months, with the airing of the Anglia TV documentary Being Terri in the USA. The Evening Star has recently received enquiries from, among other places, Colorado, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

Everybody who has contacted us, is desperate to help Terri in any way they can. They include Cindy Weickert, of Glenview, Illinois. She said: “I saw a broadcast of the documentary Being Terri on TV this week and was extremely touched by Terri's bravery and her father's devotion. I have two boys, aged six and eight, and cannot imagine the stress, pain, and emotion that Terri's father went through.”

Suzanne Larer of Atlanta, Georgia, said: “I was so completely moved by Terri's story! I can't even begin to tell you how I felt sitting there watching her happy-go-lucky attitude while dealing with such a tremendous struggle.

“Words cannot describe how touched I was by her determination - her father's tenderness and guidance and her grandparents' warmth and acceptance. I'm just in awe of that whole family.”

Over the years, fundraising efforts have stretched the length and breadth of the UK and gradually spread across the world.

The fund, which is looked after free-of-charge by a team at Kersey's Solicitors, was launched by the Star in the days following the horrific blaze at the Calvesbert's home in Chantry in 1998.

The biggest chunk of donations came after London businessman Rob Mather organised a Swim For Terri, which spread to all corners of the world. Sponsored swims took place everywhere from Nepal to Greenland and more than £150,000 was raised.

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

She is now a cheeky eight-year-old who loves school and playing with her friends.

In terms of operations, 2006 is due to be a relatively quiet year for Terri, with only two in the diary. At the moment she is in hospital after undergoing an operation to create a thumb on one of her hands, and later in the year she is hoping to have the second stage of an operation to create a new pair of ears.

Once these are done, she does not have any other operations imminent- leaving her free to get on with growing up.

See The Evening Star soon for an update on how Terri is doing after her latest operation.

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