WHEN schoolgirl Ellie Allport bounced back to health after undergoing open heart surgery, she was determined to find a way to thank the surgeons who saved her.
So the teenager orchestrated not one, but three fundraisers for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF), based at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, so far raising more than £3,000.
The 15-year-old from Lanchester, County Durham, raised most of the money through a charity ball, complete with a raffle.
But she also got staff and fellow pupils at St Bede’s School involved by holding a cake sale and planning a non-uniform day, being held later this month.
Having been overwhelmed by the care she received from everyone at the heart unit, Ellie now plans to make the charity ball an annual event.
The teenager said: “I only set out to raise £1,000 so I’m over the moon at how much has been raised.
“I would love to make this an annual event for CHUF, although I’m not sure my mum’s heart will take the stress.
“I felt like I needed to do this because so many amazing things have happened to me since I had the operations last year. I feel so much healthier, and the staff were absolutely fantastic, so I just wanted to say a big thank you and to show how much it means to me.”
It was eating a hot chip which caused chest pains that led to doctors discovering she had a heart defect.
Ellie had suffered from dizzy spells and palpitations for some time but always brushed them aside, so when she was examined by her GP she was shocked to learn she had a heart murmur.
After initially being referred to the University Hospital of North Durham, she eventually went to the Freeman’s heart unit, where surgeons carried out two operations to correct a hole in her heart, last May and June.
Ellie’s mum Julia, 44, a primary school teacher, said: “I was a little worried when surgery was first mentioned and I didn’t know anything about the heart unit at that point. Now I think it’s fantastic that we have this unit right on our doorstep. Ellie was determined to say thank you to all the staff, and she organised everything herself, with a bit of help from me and my two sisters.
“We held the ball two weekend ago. Karen and Gavin Reay provided their pub, The Anchor Inn at Whittonstall, for free and McVickers Solar Electric sponsored all the food too.
“Ellie must have gone round every shop in the village to round up raffle prizes and Adderlane First School in Prudhoe gave £400 to the cause.
“I think working in hotels, restaurants and event management is what Ellie would like to do as a career and she was certainly persuasive when she organised all of this. I’m very proud of her.”