Terri's dad is off to meet the Queen

AN INSPIRATIONAL father who has worked tirelessly to promote fire safety after his daughter suffered horrific burns in a house fire is today counting down to a meeting with the Queen.

AN INSPIRATIONAL father who has worked tirelessly to promote fire safety after his daughter suffered horrific burns in a house fire is today counting down to a meeting with the Queen.

Ipswich dad Paul Calvesbert is feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiety about attending the Buckingham Palace reception hosted by the Queen but is thrilled to have been chosen as someone who has made a significant recent contribution to national life.

Mr Calvesbert is father to burns victim Terri Calvesbert who survived 85 per cent burns in a fire at their home in Orwell Heights when she was 18 months old.

Since then she has beaten all the odds with the help of her dad and her family to live a normal life.

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Her story has hit national headlines and an Evening Star campaign to raise money for her future is constantly flooded with donations - currently standing at more than £160,000.

A worldwide sponsored swim raised more than £100,000 earlier this year.

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Although he is used to being in the public eye Mr Calvesbert said he was stunned to get the letter from Buckingham Palace.

He said: "It's quite a shock for me.

"I knew nothing about it until the letter arrived.

"It was stamped by Buckingham Palace. I was quite stunned, I thought it was something to do with Terri, not me."

Mr Calvesbert, 31, has worked almost ceaselessly to alert children to the dangers of house fires and to educate the public about fire prevention measures.

He has been at the centre of fire service campaigns aimed at promoting smoke alarm use, he has acted as an ambassador for the charity The Healing Foundation and he runs a support group for parents of young burns victims.

He was awarded an Excellence in Action Award at the Evening Star People Awards in May for his huge spirit in caring for seven-year-old Terri and he has also attended countless events with her in a bid to spread the message about the dangers of house fires.

Mr Calvesbert said: "I've been happy to be involved on any level, whatever they've asked me to do.

"I decided if you can prevent somebody else going through what we've gone through it's worth it.

"My main aim the whole way through was prevention, to stop anyone else going through it.

"It shocked me even in Terri's hospital how many kids go there.

"I go to as many events as I can and get the message out as much as I can."

The letter from The Master of the Household's Office at Buckingham Palace arrived on Wednesday and Mr Calvesbert replied almost immediately to accept the invitation to the December 7 reception.

He plans to take his mother Margaret along and admits to being a little apprehensive about attending such a high profile event.

He said: "It is exciting and scary. I imagine I'm going to meet some quite high-up people and I'm not sure what's exactly involved."

Just two days before Mr Calvesbert's visit to Buckingham Palace he is due to join Terri at the Newtown and District Dial-a-Ride charity Santa Run on December 5, which hopes to have 200 fundraisers dressed as Santa, where she will officially start the 2004 event.

Weblink: www.newtownanddistrictdialaride.org, www.swimforterri.org

What do you think of Paul Calvesbert's achievements? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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