A youngster who doctors said might never walk or talk is on the verge of a career in showbusiness.
Ellie Stephenson, aged 12, never gave up on her fight to live life to the full after suffering from a life-threatening condition within minutes of being born.
She was found to have Meconium aspiration syndrome – caused by a baby breathing in a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid around the time of delivery.
Her parents Gary and Lisa Stephenson, were told she might never be able to walk or talk and – for the first years of her life – had to be fed through a tube in her stomach.
Now her singing talent has been spotted by top London-based music management company – Downtown Artists.
Ellie said: “I always sang in choirs at school but I never had solo spots, I was always in the background and I just thought I wanted to be like the ones who sang solos. So I just started singing in my bedroom and then when my mam asked if I wanted to do a fashion show, I asked if I could sing.
I just wanted to be like the people who sang solos.Ellie Stephenson
“I practised the songs for weeks. It was my first time singing in front of people on my own.
Lisa, of Trent Drive, Jarrow, said: “I can’t believe just how far Ellie has come. Twelve years ago we were told to expect the worst and two years ago we didn’t even know she could sing. Now look at her.
“It’s just amazing. When I think back to the first time she sang at the fashion show and she was stood with the song’s words in her hand to what she is doing now. It’s just unbelievable.”
She said Ellie had secretly set her heart on singing and took to the stage for her first public appearance in a fashion show in aid of the the Children’s Heart Unit Foundation in memory of South Shields baby Miley Turbitt, who died while waiting for a donor heart.
That came about after a chance meeting with the show’s organiser.
The youngster had asked her mum if she could sing as well as model and she took to the stage with her words written on a piece of paper.
A few months later she performed again at a second fashion show in memory of Jack Leggett.
From there she has performed at a number of band festivals, charity events and at residential homes for older people.
It was during an audition for Britain’s Got Talent in Glasgow, last month, where her mum believes she was spotted.
Lisa added: “She had been told no at the audition, but the next day I had a missed a call on my phone and I rang it and someone answered ‘Hello Downtown Artists’.
“After her audition, they gave her such positive feedback and now we are just waiting for a call to see if she will be accepted onto their development programme.
“We are all really excited. Even if she doesn’t get the call back, she has done brilliantly to get as far as she has in just two years.
“I just keep thinking if I hadn’t had the conversation in Morrison’s or she hadn’t been given the chance to sing at the fashion show none of this would be happening.”