HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to courageous Hartlepool teenager Ellie-Mae Morgan who has tragically lost her battle against a cruel disease.
Ellie-Mae, 16, bravely fought a rare genetic condition for more than two years with dignity and an infectious smile that won over everyone who met her.
She passed away surrounded by her loving family early yesterday morning.
Her grief-stricken parents Sam and Richard Carter said on Facebook: “Goodnight god bless Ellie-Mae Morgan our brave warrior your free to walk again”.
Countless tributes from devastated friends and even strangers poured in on social media.
Ellie-Mae was diagnosed with the hereditary disorder in March 2012.
Doctors originally gave her a life expectancy of between five and 10 years, but her condition quickly deteriorated.
Huntington’s disease damages nerves in the brain and it gradually robbed Ellie-Mae of her speech and mobility.
Ellie-Mae was a popular pupil at High Tunstall College of Science in Elwick Road where she attended until she became too ill.
Headteacher Mark Tilling said: “Ellie-Mae has and always will be a part of the High Tunstall family.
“She was a brave and strong young lady, a true fighter who could light up any room. Ellie-Mae will be missed by all and our thoughts are with her family and friends as they and we mourn her passing.”
In other touching online tributes Zoe Maw wrote: “The sky about has received another angel a fighter to the end thoughts are with your family Rip Ellie-Mae Morgan shine bright like a diamond.”
Kristina Anne Hartley said on Facebook: “Although we only met you a few years ago. You are such a beautiful soul. And that’s the part of you that will go on forever. Your smile was infectious and you shouldn’t of had to go through all that pain at such a young age. My heart goes out to your entire family.”
And Hana Jeal said: “We are so blessed to have had such a wonderful person in our lives! In our hearts forever and always, sleep tight angel, love you always xxxxxx”.
Ellie-Mae’s family previously spoke about her brave struggle to raise awareness of the disease.
Kind-hearted supporters last year raised over £1,000 to buy Ellie-Mae a home hydrotherapy pool to help ease painful muscle spasms.
Mum Sam and partner Richard Carter, 36, got married sooner than planned last year so Ellie-Mae could be part of the memorable day.
In June she got to meet boyband One Direction at Wembley Stadium when Ellie-Mae cheekily proposed marriage to band member Liam Payne.
Liam said he was available and would hire Buckingham Palace for the occasion.