She’s the youngster with the voice of a soulful angel – and now she’s hoping to be the Young Performer of the Year.
Jarrow starlet Ellie Stephenson, 12, is an entry in this year’s competition which is sponsored by Port of Tyne.
And mum Lisa Stephenson, 44, could not be more proud of the daughter who began singing three years ago and loves to perform songs by the likes of Etta James and Adele.
Ellie’s story is a remarkable one of triumph against the odds. Doctors told her parents Gary, 40, and Lisa she might never walk or talk 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.
For the first years of her life, she had to be fed through a tube in her stomach.
But the brave youngster fought back and took to the stage for her first public appearance in a fashion show.
Since then, she has performed at a number of band festivals, charity events and at residential homes for older people.
Lisa, who also has two older daughters, Emma, 25, and Hollie, 24, said: “Everything she does is her biggest achievement. When you are 12 and you put yourself in front of everyone.
“To have that confidence, to do that, is fantastic.”
Ellie’s big aim is “just to sing. She wants to go to the top,” said Lisa. “She is not bothered how big or how small the arena is.”
And she admitted she would be overwhelmed if her daughter was to win the competition, sponsored by Port of Tyne.
“I would be like wow. I would be extremely proud of her achievement,” she said.
All the Young Performer finalists will get to perform at the Customs House in South Shields on Monday, April 18.
Judges will choose three contestants from the night who will go on to a shortlist.They will perform again at the finale of the Best of South Tyneside awards, which will be held at the Quality Hotel, in Boldon, on Thursday, June 9.
And that’s the night when we will reveal who has won this year’s Port of Tyne-backed Young Performer of the Year crown.
Now all we need is lots of entrants to make this year’s Young Performer category, sponsored by Port of Tyne, another memorable competition.
To enter this year’s contest, email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
l The Young Performer category is part of the Best of South Tyneside Awards.
To nominate, send your name, address and telephone number, the name of the business or person you wish to nominate, along with their address, telephone number and email (if known).
State which category your nomination applies to (from the list of categories) and provide a description of the reasons for your nomination (no more than 300 words)
Post your nomination to: Nicola Meldrum, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com