Family and friends say goodbye to determined young Leeds girl

Ellie-Mae Monkman.
Ellie-Mae Monkman.
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A bereaved mother has paid tribute to her “determined” daughter after the girl’s unexpected death at the age of just eight.

Twin sister Ellie-Mae Monkman, who was from Drighlington, died on August 16, four days before her ninth birthday.

Family and friends attended a funeral service at Cottingley Hall Crematorium yesterday (Thursday) to wish their final goodbyes.

Ellie-Mae had proudly won a medal for competing in the Special Olympics just a week before her death with school friends from the West SILC Farnley Partnership.

Her mother Samantha Potter said: “She had a difficult life. She couldn’t walk, talk, she couldn’t sit up, she couldn’t do anything for herself really.

“But that didn’t stop her doing things her way.

“She was determined to do the things people said she couldn’t and wouldn’t do.”

Mrs Potter gave an example of the time Ellie-Mae, who was usually confined to a wheelchair, walking down a corridor with a frame at school.

“That made us cry,” she said.

Mrs Potter, 28, has kept Ellie-Mae’s medal after a replica was made to go in the coffin with her daughter.

She said: “She was so proud of the fact she got the medal, so I’m keeping the one Ellie-Mae had.

“I’m going to keep it in a memory box because she absolutely loved her medal.”

During the games in Sheffield, the youngster competed in walking and ball activities.

A horse and carriage was set to deliver Ellie-Mae to her funeral “because she was a princess,” said Mrs Potter.

The Mr Tumble song was was played during the ceremony because the character was “her favourite thing of all time”.

Mrs Potter, of Hammond Crescent, said: “She had a personality that you could not forget. She had an infectious smile. Everybody mentioned her smile and how beautiful she was. She was loud and outgoing, even though she couldn’t speak.

“She was excited and happy about everything.”

“She loved people. She loved being around children, playing, and she loved her family very much.”

Mrs Potter also spoke of the close bond between Ellie-Mae and her twin sister Leah.

“Whenever Ellie-Mae was sad or upset, sometimes she was a bit difficult to settle. Leah was the only one who could bring her around from crying.

“They did have quite a close bond. She keeps asking to go and see her and it’s very hard. She was devastated.”

As well as attending West SILC Farnley Partnership, Ellie-Mae went to Hannah House in Rothwell for respite care.

Mrs Potter said: “Some of the kids have the same difficulties, so the parents are a bit upset.

“It’s affected so many people, more than I thought it would. Everybody’s absolutely devastated that she’s gone. The parents, and even my neighbours.”

The family went to the cliffs at Flamborough Head to release balloons to celebrate what would have been her ninth birthday.

Among others, Ellie-Mae leaves step-father Ryan Potter; sister Leah Monkman, nine; sister Kacie-Leigh Potter, five; brother Tommy-Lee Potter, one; father Damien Monkman and grandmother Deborah Brumfield.

Ellie-Mae’s uncle has set up an online fundraising page to help the family pay for her funeral and headstone.

People can contribute by going to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ellie-mae8

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