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This blog post is about a big-hearted, fun loving girl and a small gesture for the bigger cause in her name.

Earlier this week, on the day that would have been Ellie's 13th birthday, a Star Gala was held to launch the Ellie Thornton Foundation.  Ellie was involved in a traffic accident on her way to school last year and died.  Her parents, Ben and Vicky, set up the Foundation and are aiming to raise funds for "Ellie Days": enabling families to have days out for their children where they might otherwise struggle due to illness or other incapacities within the family.

I have very warm memories of Ellie: playing a puzzling game of cards with her in which she invented colourful names as well as making up the rules as she went along, talking all the time as if I really should know them; her corralling everyone to give proper attention and gusto to singing "Happy Birthday" to her soon-to-be step-mum on one of our many friends and family walks; and confidently reading out a moving poem she'd written for their wedding, completely unphased by the imposing surroundings of Romsey Abbey, with every one of us in the congregation wiping away the tears.

The Star Gala got things off to a terrific start.  Amongst the many fund raising activities was a live auction, to which I donated a ZigZag Alive one-to-one swim analysis or lesson and Swim Forward Plan for the highest bidder.  It felt exciting and humbling as the bids raced up beyond the normal charge I make.  Congratulations and big thanks to Laura for her fiery bidding on behalf of partner Jerome.

Such was her generosity that I've decided to provide individual swim sessions for each of them: Jerome to develop a stroke that will mean he can keep going and going and Laura to learn front crawl for the first time.  Watch this space for how we get on.

And look out for great things to come from the Ellie Thornton Foundation

 Ellie, Vicky and Ben doing what they did best - having a great time together

Ellie, Vicky and Ben doing what they did best - having a great time together

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