A 16-year-old girl who skipped her school prom because classmates badly bullied her, has been thrown a special party by her friends. She wore a £470 dress in the party.
The teenager, Shannon Purcifer, 16, from Gosport, Hampshire, missed her prom night because her classmates teased her about her illness.
Her mother Claire Carstens, 38, posted photographs of her daughter wearing her unused dress and it touched the hearts of the nation.
But a fleet of 120 bikers were among those who rode to the youngster’s rescue after a rival do was organised to ‘stick two fingers up’ at the bullies who had targeted her for the past 18 months.
Shannon Purcifer, 16, (pictured) was dancing and smiling after friends and 120 bikers organised a special prom for her
A fleet of 120 bikers (pictured) attended the event after the schoolgirl missed her prom in Gosport, Hampshire, last month
Her mother uploaded these photographs to her Facebook page after Shannon shunned last month’s gala because she was being bullied
The party was attended by more than 100 friends and family – complete with buffet, decorations and disco – in her hometown on Saturday.
The schoolgirl said: ‘It was just really great. It was lovely to be able to talk to everyone and thank them for all their efforts.
‘It was better than I could ever have imagined. It was far better than if I had gone to my own school prom.
‘The best part was when the bikes arrived. I knew they were coming but I had no idea I was going to be riding there on a three-wheeled bike.
‘There was lots of dancing and I generally just had an amazing time. There were people there I’d never even met who had gone out of their way to help me. It was really emotional.’
Brave coeliac Shannon, who also suffers from arthritis and bowel disease ulcerative colitis, had previously spoken about the taunts she endured by playground bullies after she returned from a two-week stint in hospital two years ago.
Riders from Gosport Scooter Club were among those who pitched in to help with her big day, giving her an escort from her home to the venue at St Vincent College.
She was also given a corsage to wear carrying a picture of her late father, Daniel Purcifer, a Royal Navy Petty Officer, who died in Germany in 2007 aged 28.
Shannon (pictured with her mother Claire Carstens) finally got to wear her prom dress and tiara after a special prom night was held for her
The 16-year-old was laughing when she was picked up by two of the bikers (left) and was later pictured dancing with her boyfriend Lee Younger (right)
Bikers and some of the guests gathered to pose for a photograph after the event was organised in her hometown of Gosport
Ms Carstens, a retail worker, said: ‘It was even better than we could have hoped for. It was a really lovely day.
‘She got up and had her nails and hair done first, then her make-up and then all of her friends started to arrive.
‘We went to Foster Gardens en route to the venue so everyone could have their photo taken.
‘It did actually rain in spells but for the bits when we were outside, the bike ride and the photoshoot, the weather was great.
‘The bikers were just amazing. We’re really grateful for everyone’s help. Shannon was very emotional but she looked amazing.
‘There’s no better way to stick two fingers up at bullies than to go out and enjoy yourself.’
The guests who attended the prom party included Shannon’s stepdad Kevin Carstens, a 37-year-old engineer, her brothers Alex, 18, and Brandon, 12, and four-year-old sister Freya, as well as ‘true friends’ and family.
One of the bikers gave Shannon a lift to the event (left) and the schoolgirl seemed delighted at the special party as she spoke to her stepfather Kevin (right)
The huge number of bikers turned up to the event which was held in Gosport, Hampshire, after she was unable to go to her official prom
Hundreds of people gathered to take photographs of the event (left) after Shannon was finally able to wear the dress (right) to her own special prom
Shannon being treated aged 14 in hospital. The Gosport teenager had ulcerative colitis, is a coeliac and has arthritis
Shannon met Prince William in May this year (left) and also posed for a photograph with superbike star Shane Byrne (right)
In the emotional Facebook post posted by her mother she described how Shannon tried her dress on the night of her school event in June even though she had decided not to go .
‘She had been looking forward to it for months and we bought the dress as far back as February but the bullying got so bad she knew she wouldn’t enjoy it if she went.
‘She agonised over it for a while but we knew maybe two months beforehand that her heart wasn’t in it. She’d had enough.
‘With all the things she’s been going through with her health and trying to study for GCSEs, the bullying has just taken its toll.
‘It started about halfway through year 10 and continued into year 11. It’s mainly been name-calling and intimidation but there has been physical bullying too.
‘When she’s been poorly, the bullies have jumped on that too and it’s got to the point where she feels sick every day.
‘Having to put up with all of that has been too much for her.’
Shannon, who is due to start college in the autumn, has to take up to five tablets a day for her illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis, which was spotted by doctors last year.
Prior to the alternative prom, the head teacher of her Hampshire school said: ‘The alternative prom is a lovely idea. It is a great example of the positive power of social media, and we hope it is a great success.’