She’s been Buzz Lightyear, and even the Coronavirus, and now a Devon woman who has been dressing up every Friday to bring cheer to a Mid Devon village, has vowed to continue the fun after her best friend was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Ellie Aldridge, aged 42 from Sampford Peverell first took part in a dress-up Friday two years ago, following on from Joe Wicks exercises for children. On Friday Joe, known as The Body Coach – would dress up, and Ellie and her daughter would do the same.
“Me and my daughter Elsie watched him on TV, did our workout in fancy dress on a Friday, and then went to the village and had lots of people smiling and waving,” she said. Then it just became a thing. We did it every week and found that people were waiting for us. There was a lady across the canal who would be in the same spot for us to wave at her, and there’s a little man that lives in a bungalow by The Globe and he always waits and waves every Friday. People have loved it. They always say how we make them smile and encourage us to keep going every Friday, so I did.”
She added: “It started as a fun thing to keep people happy during lockdown. I got a very good friend in the village who was shielding because she had breast cancer and then when she was allowed out again, she used to come and walk with me. She didn’t care what she was wearing, and we’d stop and chat to people on a big route around the canal to get some exercise and make people smile.
“Then we got locked down again and we carried on. She got diagnosed with a sarcoma in her pelvis. At that point I’d been doing it for a year and was going to give it up, but she urged me to keep going and raise funds for Sarcoma UK as they don’t get any funding from the government. She said after having loads of treatment she wanted to give something back. She said it would make her smile as well.
“I was going to have a grand finale when she got better, and have a fancy-dress ball in the village, but earlier this month we found out that she’s not going to get better. I’m going to keep going for as long as I can, but it won’t be forever. Now it is a mission to raise as much money as possible for the charity.”
Ellie – a full time mother to three, and accountant with her husband’s carpentry business – has so far raised more than £1,300 for the cause with her flamboyant costumes she makes herself. “I make a lot of my own costumes, and have borrowed people’s inflatables and stuff like that,” she continued. “The dinosaur costume was quite hard. Whenever the kids have had World Book Day and such I always made a costume for them so I’ve been able to repurpose items like that to use.
“My most eye-catching costume was an angel. A man who takes photos of the canal did a double take and took a photo and shared it onto the Grand Western Canal Facebook page and interest grew from there. My favorite costume has been Buzz Lightyear He was my hero when I was growing up. Anything inflatable is always good, and always makes people laugh. I keep local, keep around the village, and have been known to go up to the primary school and wave outside the window in a costume, which has really annoyed one of the teachers when all her kids get excited.”
Ellie would love to invite Joe Wicks to Devon to take part in one of her fancy-dress walks around Sampford Peverell. I want the Body Coach working out in my garden one day, to help raise funds, so if anyone has a contact that would be great.”
You can see all of Ellie’s creations at https://www.instagram.com/mummatoad/
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