Young West Ham United fan dies in hospital, aged 16, from a rare skin condition

Braintree and Witham Times: Broken-hearted – Darren Coote with a picture of his daughter Chelsea Broken-hearted – Darren Coote with a picture of his daughter Chelsea

TOUCHING tributes have been paid to an inspirational teenager who lost her battle with a rare skin condition.

Tragic Chelsea Coote, from Laindon, died aged 16 on Monday, from a rare condition called epidermolysis bullosa, which made her skin extremely fragile and easily blistered.

She spent a lot of her life covered in plasters and was only 5ft tall because the condition stunted her growth.

Chelsea’s parents Darren and Colleen, of Weymarks, paid tribute to their “special” daughter and are now trying to raise awareness of the condition.

Darren, 50, said: “Chelsea was a complete one-off, so special. She was really outgoing and cheeky.

“Although she was very ill, she never let the condition get her down. She loved school and had some of her best years there.”

Chelsea was a pupil at Castledon School, in Wickford, until June last year, then moved to Seevic College, in Benfleet, to study lifeskills so she could become more independent.

Just after Chelsea was born, she was whisked off to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, in London, so her condition could be assessed.

She spent a lot of time being treated there and met several celebrities, including singer Peter Andre and footballer Gary Lineker, during her stays.

Chelsea was also huge West Ham fan and had her dream came true when she met the team and was given an access all areas tour of Upton Park.

Colleen, 46, said: “She was a very determined young girl. She always said what she thought, and was really open about her condition.

“She hated people staring. She would prefer them to come over and talk to her. She went through so much in her short life, but made the most of every day.

“Her condition started to deteriorate three years ago when she developed pancreatitis, and she was spending a lot more time in hospital.“ Chelsea started to feel unwell last Sunday and, after her condition rapidly deteriorated, died at Basildon Hospital on Monday.

Philippa Holliday, acting headteacher at Castledon School, said: “She was a bubbly young lady and was well liked by pupils. We were shocked and upset to hear the news.

“One of the most inspiring things about her was her determination. When you realise how poorly she was, she was still an inspiration to everyone.”

Chelsea’s funeral takes place at Pitsea Crematorium on May 30. A horse and carriage will leave the family home at 1pm and the service starts at 2pm.

Anyone who knew the family or Chelsea is welcome to attend the service and tributes can also be paid on Facebook group RIP Chelsea Coote.

The family has asked for any donations to be made to charity Debra, which helped the family with Chelsea’s skin condition.

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