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She smiled like an angel: Ellie McDonnell's mum pays emotional tribute after shock death of inspiring Portaferry schoolgirl


Tragic: Ellie McDonnell with pony Fluffy

Tragic: Ellie McDonnell with pony Fluffy

Tragic: Ellie McDonnell with pony Fluffy

The mother of an inspiring teenager who passed away suddenly at the weekend said she "smiled like an angel" during her recovery from a horrific accident last year.

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 will take place tomorrow at St Patrick's Church in the town.

Ellie is survived by her parents Mary and Peter, and her brother Max.

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

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

The Down High School pupil was riding a quad bike when she collided with her mum's 4x4 on 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.

In a post on Facebook, Mary wrote that her daughter had won the "nation's hearts" through her story and fought harder than "any human being" to live.

"Ellie never showed pain, and the accident caused her a lot of pain with the numerous surgeries on her brain, the patching up of her skull each time and the shaving of her beautiful hair," she said.

"Yet she smiled like an angel and carried on.

"Ellie was recovering well and was days away from getting back on her ponies.

"She was so excited and counting the hours literally.

"We are in shock and cannot accept she isn't here.

"She didn't want to die so I am angry with God for taking her and I am worried sick how she is coping without me - is she frightened, is she crying like we are, is she heartbroken like we are, is she looking for her mummy and daddy? These questions are torturing us.

"So wrap your arms round your beautiful children and be grateful for them because I wouldn't wish this pain of losing our child on anyone."

In an earlier statement Down High School principal Maud Perry said Ellie's "tenacity after her accident last year was truly inspirational, and she showed a level of courage and positivity that was remarkable".

In line with the current Covid-19 guidelines the family home will be private and the funeral service will be restricted to relatives and close friends only.

Ellie's cortege will leave from the family farm at 11am, calling at her stables before arriving at St Patrick's Church.

Burial afterwards will be in the adjoining graveyard.

Donations in lieu, if desired, can be made to Air Ambulance NI via John Smith Funeral Directors in Portaferry.

Belfast Telegraph