Barking and Dagenham rallies to give friends a prom night to remember

tommy and sophie

Sophie and Tommy on their way to their prom at Central Park in Dagenham in a rose gold Bentley. - Credit: Donna Staples

Best friends enjoyed their last day at primary school after the community rallied to give them a prom night to remember.

When pupil Sophie Staples discovered Richard Alibon Primary School in Dagenham was going ahead with its leavers' prom, she knew just who to invite.

Thrilled, Tommy Wells said yes to her "prom-posal" - the 11-year-old penned a letter inviting him to go and have "lots of fun".

Tommy's mum Lisa Wells then took to social media, asking if anyone had a flashy car to help the pair arrive in style and make the night even more memorable.

And the offers poured in, with Green Watch at Dagenham fire station leading a convoy of vehicles to the do at Central Park on Wednesday, July 21.

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After a positive Covid-19 test at the school, the official event was called off, but families and supporters leapt into action, setting up an impromptu do at the park.

sophie and tommy in the car

Sophie is hard of hearing in one ear and Tommy has Down Syndrome but neither let that stop them living life to the full. - Credit: Donna Staples

Travelling "like royalty", Sophie and Tommy arrived in a rose gold Bentley donated for the evening by Laura Chapman.

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A white MG provided by Steve Street and VW Beetle supplied by Thomas Shelley formed part of the convoy which was accompanied by motorcyclists from Bike Escorts UK and even joined by a police car.

tommy outside the bentley

Tommy's mum Lisa Wells asked on Facebook if anyone could help make the friends' prom night even more special - and offers poured in. - Credit: Donna Staples

At Central Park, the young party-goers, their families and supporters enjoyed a picnic, music and dancing - including to a few of Tommy's favourite tracks from the show Disney Descendants.

Sophie's mum Donna said: "It was just phenomenal. They have made it so special for the kids. It's something they will remember forever."

Lisa added: "It was the perfect end to their time at the school. Everyone was just so lovely. That's one of the best things about the borough - when you need help, people are there."


Tommy and Sophie travel "like royalty" in a rose gold Bentley. - Credit: Donna Staples

Both mums said a "massive" thank you to all the supporters and well-wishers who made Tommy and Sophie's last day of primary so special.

"We are so, so grateful. We can't thank everyone enough. It was the most amazing, selfless act," Lisa said.

Donna added: "They don't know how much it means to us and the kids."

A day later, Tommy was still on cloud nine, although both he and Sophie are feeling "a bit tired" after their prom, according to the mums.

And while the pair start different secondary schools in September, their friendship will endure.

"When Tommy makes friends, he makes them for life," Lisa said.

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