‘Sleep well little angel’: Family’s heartbreaking tribute to schoolgirl

Ellie Thornton died aged 11 after she was injured in a bus stop crash in Thakeham. Photos supplied by the family.
Ellie Thornton died aged 11 after she was injured in a bus stop crash in Thakeham. Photos supplied by the family.
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The family of a schoolgirl who died after a crash have paid tribute their ‘bright and beautiful little angel’.

Ellie Thornton, of Linfield Copse, Thakeham, was involved in a collision with a van on the B2139 Storrington Road in Thakeham as she walked to school on March 22.

The 11-year-old was flown to St George’s Hospital in London but died a week later.

She leaves behind her parents Ben and Kerry, step-parents Vicky and Adrian, and younger brother and sister.

Paying tribute this week Ellie’s family described her as a ‘beautiful and adventurous’ girl and told her to ‘sleep well little angel’.

A statement released by the family said: “Just under two weeks ago our amazing daughter Ellie was hit by a van as she walked to school, she spent the next week fighting to recover from the terrible injury her brain had suffered. Sadly on 29th March at 11.17am our beautiful daughter lost her fight for life and passed away.

“We would like to thank those who came to Ellie’s immediate aid, including the brave and clever pupil who alerted the emergency services and the doctor and nurse who were immediately on scene until the emergency services arrived.

“Thank you to the doctors and paramedics who tended to Ellie at the roadside, we are also incredibly grateful to the Kent and Sussex Air Ambulance who got Ellie and her mother to St Georges Hospital as fast as possible.

“Regarding the staff of St George’s A and E and Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, we cannot praise them enough for their care and commitment and tenderness shown to Ellie and her family. We also thank the staff of Ronald Macdonald House who provide a safe place for parents in distress and some form of normality during devastating times.

“Ellie, our bright star, was an amazing person. She was confident, worldly, kind natured and caring towards others. She had raised money for Chestnut Tree House and Comic Relief, and for her young age she had a great awareness that there are many children not as fortunate as she was.

“Ellie was so adventurous, sociable and bright. She made both of her families very proud, only a few weeks ago we listened as Ellie’s teachers gave glowing accounts of her achievements, her great potential and enthusiastic attitude.

“Ellie’s personality shone bright wherever she went and she had many friends both at school, at Guides and in the wider communities of Thakeham and Shoreham By Sea.

“Over the last few days we have received correspondence from her classmates sharing their memories of Ellie and these have been full of sorrow, praise and love for our little girl who will be missed by more than just immediate family.”

Floral tributes have been left at the scene, close to the Abingworth development.

Messages from class mates at Rydon Community College, where Ellie attended, have also been placed by the roadside.

One read: “It was an honour to have known you at Rydon. Dance with the angels”. Another simply said: “RIP Ellie. In our hearts.”

“Thank you to all the tributes that have been left, the flowers and messages, we understand that this is not just a family loss but a tragedy for the whole community,” the family continued.

“Both families are completely devastated to have lost Ellie at such a young age, she leaves behind a younger sister and a brother who love her very much. We ask people to respect our privacy whilst we try to come to terms with this terrible tragedy.”

Thakeham Parish Council said new road safety measures had been included in amendments to plans put forward by Abingworth Developments.

The measures include creating pinch points to slow down traffic near the bus stop as well as improving signage in the area and extending the 40mph zone before entering the village from the south.

The family said: “Whilst it is comforting to know that planned safety improvements to the road and bus stop location have been brought forward, as a result of the accident, it leaves us questioning why these measures were not already in place considering the concerns that had already been raised. We cannot understand why it takes the loss of an innocent life for authorities to take more immediate action.

“Some changes have been made, the mud is now being cleared from the road and a temporary bus stop sign has been put up, but cars continue to speed, unaware that children are crossing the road just yards ahead. We hope that safety improvements advance as quickly as possible so that no other family has to suffer this devastation to their lives.”

Bells rang out at St Mary’s Church in Thakeham on Tuesday evening as a moving service was held to remember the 11-year-old.

Several of her friends from Rydon Community College gathered in the church yard as they listened to the moving tribute.

Thakeham Parish Council said the community was deeply upset following the news of her death and sent its condolences.

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