Fairytale ending to Prom nightmare

Ellie Copp lost her prom dress when fire destroyed her family home, but friends at St. Mary's Catholic Academy rallied round to provide her with a new dress and a limo to arrive in.
Ellie steps out of the limo.  PIC BY ROB LOCK
29-6-2016
Ellie Copp lost her prom dress when fire destroyed her family home, but friends at St. Mary's Catholic Academy rallied round to provide her with a new dress and a limo to arrive in. Ellie steps out of the limo. PIC BY ROB LOCK 29-6-2016
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You shall go to the ball...

For 16-year-old Ellie Copp this Prom dream very nearly didn’t come true.

The St Mary’s Catholic Academy student was all smiles when she joined classmates to say goodbye in style on Wednesday evening.

It was a fitting end to a Cinderella story - with her school teachers and classmates playing the role of fairy godmother.

A fire at her house in Ridgwood Avenue, Blackpool, left Ellie’s Prom dress ruined and her family in crisis.

Mum Esther Pierre, 39, explained how the family’s lives had changed since June 6, when flames swept through their home.

She said: “It started as a little thing.

“The treadmill set on fire.

“I felt silly calling the fire brigade it was so small.

“But by the time they arrived, and we’re just around the corner from Forest Gate, there was smoke pouring through the roof, the bedroom window had popped out.

“The front bedroom is burned out, the second bedroom is very badly smoke damaged.

“Downstairs there’s water damage everywhere.

“Ellie’s bedroom, only half of it was damaged, but her Prom dress was among the items damaged beyond repair.”

It was a devastating blow for the youngster during her GCSE exams.

“As a single mum I don’t have a lot of money to spare,” said Esther.

“We’d paid for the dress in instalments, I paid £200 and Ellie £70.

“There was no way we could replace it.”

The dress was the least of the family’s problems.

The blaze left them without a home – moving between hotels and holiday flats.

It’s a story which tugged on the heartstrings at St Mary’s where pupils and staff went above and beyond the call of duty to help.

Head Simon Eccles said: “We knew the family had suffered with the fire and had lost all their clothes and much more beside.

“Ellie’s form tutor came to see me and we decided to pull together to help.

“We put together some emergency parcels for them and then it came to our attention the Prom dress had been lost.

“Ellie came asking if it could be fixed.

“It soon became clear it couldn’t so we came up with another plan.

“The school contacted local firms and their generosity was amazing.”

Poulton Bridal Lounge came up with a dress, Poulton Nail and Beauty Lounge helped with make up and Lloyds BMW provided a chauffeur.

“It was so heartwarming to see.

“It’s the St Mary’s way to work together like this to help and come Prom night Ellie, and all the children looked a million dollars.”

St Mary’s weren’t the only school to pitch in.

Marton Primary, where Esther is an inclusion support worker, have also provided care packages to the family.

“Everyone’s so kind,” said Esther.

“It restores your faith in humanity.

“I just want to say thank you,” said Ellie, who was able to enjoy Prom night with her friends.

“I was overwhelmed.

“It was really good, it was great to be able to spend that time with my friends, especially after everything had been so stressful.

“Thank you to everyone for making this happen.”