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Beloved ponies lead Ellie (16) on her final journey

Tragic teen's Air Ambulance fundraising hailed

An inspirational teenager who passed away suddenly at the weekend was praised for her incredible charity work as she was laid to rest yesterday.

Ellie McDonnell (16) from Portaferry, who died on Saturday, had recently supported National Air Ambulance Week after she was involved in a collision at her family home in July last year.

Her funeral took place yesterday afternoon at St Patrick's Church in the town.

Ellie is survived by her parents Mary and Peter, sister Ashley, brother Max and the wider family circle.

The accomplished horse rider's funeral cortege was escorted by her beloved ponies.

She had been picked to ride for the Northern Ireland team in a competition in Wales just before last year's crash.

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Tragic: Ellie McDonnell

Tragic: Ellie McDonnell

Tragic: Ellie McDonnell

The Down High School pupil was on a quad bike when she collided with her mum's 4x4 at a blind bend on a lane leading to the family home.

She sustained broken arms, legs, eye sockets, cheeks and teeth, and had severe swelling on the brain.

Shortly after their arrival at the scene the Air Ambulance medical team put her into an induced coma to protect her brain and she was transported to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Ellie made a dramatic recovery and was discharged from hospital on September 20 last year.

Since the accident she had fundraised for Air Ambulance NI as a thank you for saving her life.

The North Down Hunt and Down High School's equestrian team formed a guard of honour for Ellie outside the church yesterday.

Speaking during her Funeral Mass, Fr Feargal McGrady said Ellie's "miraculous" recovery from her accident was down to the strength and determination which followed her throughout her life.

Fr McGrady added that Ellie was so inspired by the work of the Air Ambulance service that she had plans to study medicine, become a doctor and work for the charity.

"The Air Ambulance Northern Ireland became a big part of Ellie's life as well," he said.

"She became a great ambassador for them.

"Ellie organised a twilight walk and raised an astounding £28,500. Extraordinary.

"Ellie raised great awareness of the necessity of the Air Ambulance, and people in this part of the world know how crucial that is and how vital it was in saving lives such as her own."

Reflecting on her achievements in the equestrian scene, Fr McGrady said she had achieved numerous victories at the Balmoral Show, the Royal Dublin Show and the Highland Show, as well as many others.

"She grew up and was a loyal member of the Northern Area of the National Pony Society and spent her summers competing and making lasting friendships along the way, which is so obvious this morning," he added.

"Fox hunting was her passion and she thrived at the adrenalin rush and the freedom of the open fields and galloping horses, jumping fences alongside the master upfront with the hounds.

"Ellie loved her school life and the wonderful friendships that grew there as well."

Following the service Ellie was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.

In an earlier post on Facebook, Mary wrote that her daughter had won the "nation's hearts" through her story and had "smiled like an angel and carried on" despite her painful injuries.

Belfast Telegraph