Closer treated burns victim Terri Calvesbert to a glam photo shoot to celebrate the arrival of her prosthetic ears
Originally published: 2 August 2011
Proudly sweeping her hair from her face, Terri Calvesbert shows off a pair of sparkly earrings as she models a trendy new look.
The brave teen fought back from the brink of death in November 1998 after suffering horrific 90 per cent burns in a house fire as a baby. The blaze started after her mum accidentally dropped a lit cigarette into her cot. Terri lost her hair, nose, lips, ears, fingers and one of her feet as a result.
'My new ears make a big difference. I used to hide behind my hair, but now I can show my ears off'
Over the past few years, Closer has followed Terri’s remarkable journey. She’s endured countless operations, but last month her two-year wait for new ears finally came to an end when she was fitted with magnetic prosthetic ears. As well as allowing her to wear her hearing aids more discreetly, it also means she’s fulfilled her dream of wearing earrings.
To mark the occasion, we treated Terri, 14, to a photo shoot – giving her the chance to be pampered by a stylist and make-up artist.
“I love clothes and dressing up. I feel so pretty in my new outfit,” grins Terri, wearing a short skirt and denim jacket.
“My new ears make a big difference. I used to hide behind my hair, but now I can show my ears off.”
It’s only been a few months since we last caught up with Terri, but she’s clearly grown in confidence. Squealing excitedly when she sees a pile of clothes and accessories spread across her bed at her home in Ipswich, Suffolk, she picks shorts and sparkly tights for her first photo.
“My friends won’t believe this,” she says, as she poses for our photographer.
Even her dad, Paul, 39, is stunned by the transformation. He says: “She looks like a young woman, it’s amazing. I was prepared for her death all those years ago, but now she’s proving the doctors wrong.”
Revealing Terri’s ears are secured by magnetic pins that were implanted in 2008, Paul says: “She wanted new ears to fit in with her friends, but the pins caused infections so she couldn’t wear them for two years.”
Terri’s life has been dominated by hospital visits as her skin – which doesn’t grow as it should because of the scarring – needs to be stretched through painful operations. She also had an operation in December to start repositioning her thumb.
Yet despite the painful ops, Terri’s remarkably forgiving towards her mum Julie, 31, who was so wracked with guilt she fled the family home. She divorced Paul a year later and only got back in touch when he married Terri’s stepmum Nikki, 42, in June 2008. Amazingly, Terri, who now talks to Julie every few months, says: “I’m not angry with Mum. People make mistakes.”
Instead, Terri’s focusing on the future – coyly admitting she’s dating a boy called Luke. She giggles: “We’ve been together for two years. He’ll love my new look.”
'I'm not angry with Mum. People make mistakes'
Changing the subject, Terri, who wants to work with animals when she’s older, introduces our reporter to her new puppy, Winston, insisting he’s involved in the shoot.
“He’s had his hair cut recently so he looks good too,” she explains.
Finishing the day in a black and white dress, Terri says: “I love wearing dresses, they make me feel grown up. I don’t worry about the way I look – my teachers have explained to my friends what happened and they know I’m just a normal girl like them.”
Terri will need more ops on her thumb. But for now, she’s relishing in her new-found confidence. “I’ve had so much fun today,” she says. “I felt so pretty wearing make-up. I can’t wait to experiment with my new look.”
By Natalie Corp