“A little bubbly ray of sunshine”: Tributes pour in for young showjumper

Ella Popely. Photo contributed by the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead zB3aiJ4DzmjZOVX_K0vT
Ella Popely. Photo contributed by the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead zB3aiJ4DzmjZOVX_K0vT

Tributes have poured in for a young showjumping star who died in a crash on her way to college.

Ella Popely was involved in a collision on Tuesday (December 6).

Ella showjumping. Photo courtesy of British Showjumping

Ella showjumping. Photo courtesy of British Showjumping

The teenager, who had recently celebrated her 18th birthday, grew up near Hickstead and spent 14 years at Burgess Hill Girls school.

Kathryn Bell, headteacher at the school, said: “Ella’s death is such a tragic and devastating loss to all those who knew her, loved her, and ever rubbed shoulders with her.

“One of my nursery staff summed Ella up by saying that when Ella started in the nursery, for two years she carried around a little bubbly ray of sunshine! All the staff and students at Burgess Hill Girls are so terribly saddened by the news that she died so tragically in a road accident yesterday (Tuesday December 6), on her way to college. She had only just turned 18; such a dreadful loss.

“Ella joined Burgess Hill Girls in the nursery in 2001 and left after her GCSE’s in 2015, to study for her A Levels at another College.

“Ella, will be remembered by everyone at school for her wonderful dedication and contribution to school life, to sport and for her significant and outstanding Showjumping ability. She was always an energetic and lively young lady who enjoyed life to the full. She was well known to the whole community for not only her successes but also, most importantly, she was appreciated and much-loved for her down to earth, honest and open approach to life. She was very well grounded, was caring of others, had a very positive outlook on life and was renowned for making everyone laugh!

“This is an exceedingly difficult time for her family and we respect this. Our heartfelt thoughts go out to her family and close friends at this incredibly challenging and demanding time.

“She is, and will continue to be, very sadly missed by the whole school community.”

Ella was a talented showjumping rider and represented Great Britain on a number of occasions.

The daughter of John Popely, an international showjumper, she first took up the sport at the age of eight and was expected to follow in her father’s footsteps.

She competed in her first international competition in 2011 after being selected for the Children’s Nations cup team competing in Hagen. She was then selected for the Children’s European Championship Squad that same year.

British Showjumping paid tribute to the teenager describing her as an ‘extremely bright, enthusiastic and personable young woman who would be sorely missed by many’ .

Iain Graham, chief executive of British Showjumping, said: “I speak for myself, the Non-Executive Board and the entire Association when I say that words are unable to convey the sadness we feel in the loss of Ella. Our sincerest thoughts are with Lea, John, and Ella’s brother Jack during this extremely difficult time.”

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