A family fancy dress party to mark what would have been the 18th birthday of a girl from Watford who died in 2006 has raised more than £1,400 for the British Heart Foundation.

Ellie Sheppard, a pupil at Bromet Primary School, died a few weeks after her 11th birthday from an undetected heart problem called Brugada syndrome.

Together with family and friends, her mum, Donna Thornton, organised the party and raffle at Northwood Football Club last Friday (November 23) to celebrate Ellie’s life and raise money for charity. So far the event has raised around £1,432.

Donna, 43, said: "I have been overwhelmed by the massive response to Ellie’s 18th and the amount of money we have raised. We were hoping to raise a few hundred pounds, so to get into four figures is amazing.

"I can’t thank everyone who helped out enough - from Andy Johnson and the guys at Northwood Football Club, who let us have the venue for free, to DJ Errol Taylor and local band Fast Track, who played free.

“Richard Harris and Donna Love minded the door and looked after us all.

"We even had a birthday cake in Ellie’s favourite colour, purple, made by Joanne McKenna.

"Lots of Ellie’s friends turned up: they have not forgotten her. Ellie would have been very happy and proud."

Ian Bolton, ex-Watford FC player drew the raffle and judged the fancy dress competition, and many local businesses and individuals donated raffle prizes.

The auction of a Tottenham Hotspur FC shirt signed by defender Steven Caulker raised £20, while a family photo shoot raised £85 at an auction on the night.