A HEARTBROKEN family have paid tribute to their “bubbly, funny and caring” teenage girl after her tragic death.

Ellise Sambora was found dead last Monday at grandmother Barbara Keeble’s home in Goldhanger Road, Heybridge.

Ellise, who attended Plume Academy in Maldon, was just 13 when she died.

She would have celebrated her 14th birthday on Saturday, September 7.

She went to live with her grandmother after mum Lorna died of cancer when Ellise was just ten.

Barbara, 63, and Ellise’s father, Lee Motyer, 55, paid tribute to Ellise, who they described as “truly selfless” and inspiring to her friends.

Barbara said: “She was just like her mum – so bubbly, funny, caring.

“Her friends meant everything to her and you only have to read the messages that have come in on her Instagram.

“You find out things you didn’t know about her.

“People we do not even know are telling us about the times she was there for them, and how her words comforted them.

“She was so full of her own problems but she always put her friends first.

“We are very proud of her. We did not realise the effect she has had on people.”

Ellise loved dance and had been a member of Theatretrain, which had given her the chance to perform on some of the biggest stages, walking out at the Royal Albert Hall and performing in the parade at Disneyland Paris.

Ellise was a member of the Maldon Sea Cadets, loved going to the gym and undertook extra curricular activities including the Children’s University, when she attended Wentworth Primary School.

More recently, she enjoyed creating dance routines and loved to read, especially Harry Potter.

Just a few weeks before her death, she had written to Farleigh Hospice, expressing a desire to volunteer for the charity, supporting patients nearing the end of their lives.

Dad Lee recalled many happy memories with his daughter which he said will always stay with him.

His most treasured memory was simply walking along the River Blackwater with Ellise.

Lee said: “We took a rowing boat out one day in the Dengie.

“I’ve never laughed so much in all my life.

“It took her ten minutes to row five feet.

“She had gone in every direction, backwards, forwards – she almost ran over the ducks.

“But after she joined the Sea Cadets, she ended up becoming a top rower.”

Barbara said: “One of the things that truly appealed to her was to be an underwater photographer.

“She liked photography and loved marine life.”

Lee added: “She loved to go out and take pictures anywhere she could.

“Just a little while ago we went out to Colchester, got a little lost and she was then laid down in the middle of the road taking pictures.

“I was in fits and giggles watching her.

“She loved to take risks to get her mad little shots.”

The family said they had been overwhelmed by the support of so many people, sending cards, flowers and messages following Ellise’s death.

To mark her life, the family took a collection of mementoes to their “special tree” in Newmarket, to lay a few special memories of Ellise.

They also released balloons in tribute to her.

Barbara said: “We appreciate all of it. I am so grateful for everyone’s support, but we would like everyone to respect her privacy for now.”

Pupils at Ellise’s school are being offered professional support following the tragedy.

Her death is not being treated as suspicious.

To read Plume Academy's tribute to Ellise, click here.