Badly burned teenage girl defies odds to attend prom, college

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A teenage girl horrifically burned as a baby in a terrifying fire has made her dad very proud as she prepares to leave school.

Terri Calvesbert lost her hair, lips, nose, all her fingers and her left foot as the blaze tore through her bedroom in November 1998.

Terri's father, Paul, feared his 23-month-old girl would not survive as her body was brutally scarred by savage burns.

But his heroic daughter defied the odds and now Paul, 40, is preparing to watch his 16-year-old pride and joy leave (high school), enjoy the school prom and start the next exciting chapter of her life.

Paul, of Suffolk, England said, "Seeing Terri leave school is a huge deal, I am so proud of her.

"I never thought I would see her start school let alone get to this stage.

"In the early days I never thought I would see Terri grow up but she is a real fighter. She has exceeded everyone's expectations."

And Terri admitted, "It is fairly scary, leaving school. I have made some great friends - they have always looked out for me."

But Terri is ready to take on her next big challenge — an animal studies qualification at Otley College, near Ipswich, England.

Terri said, "When I was younger I wanted to work in a hospital helping people, or as an ambulance driver.

"I think it's because I spent so much time at Broomfield Hospital when I was little.

"Then I decided I wanted to work with children and then I realized animals would be easier to work with than kids."

Before she moves on she has her school prom to look forward to, saying, "I can't wait. I already have my dress sorted."

She was just 23-months-old when the fire broke out in her bedroom just days before her second birthday.

The devastating inferno was started by a cigarette her mother, Julie Minter, left by her cot.

Terri was left with burns covering 90 percent of her fragile body.

Her face, scalp, neck, chest, back and both arms and legs were all devastated.

She is still left with questions over her nightmare ordeal but has been going to a burns camp for the last 10 years.

She admitted, "Sharing what you have been through helps. You realize you're not the only one."|

Terri knows some of what happened to her, saying, "I don't know if I will ever know the full story. I think I have dealt with it and I am moving on."

Last year Terri's mother, Julie, spoke out about the fire and admitted she is crippled by terrible guilt.

Despite a brief attempt at reconciliation, Terri and her mother no longer have any contact.

"I tried," admitted Terri, who wears a blonde wig. "But it didn't work out. I have moved on. I am looking forward."

There are more operations ahead for the brave teenager as doctors are set to begin the process of rebuilding Terri's face once she turns 18.

She has already faced 50 agonizing operations to stretch her taut skin.

"I don't want my head to get any bigger between now and then," Terri joked.

"I don't really know how I feel about it.

"At the moment I'm not really too bothered but I'm sure I'll think about it more nearer the time."

Terri wants to continue working with young burns victims through her role as ambassador of the charity The Healing Foundation.

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