Watton crash teenager praised by Dereham businessman

A teenager who died at the weekend after a car crash has been described as a sparkling girl by a Dereham businessman who was going to offer her an apprenticeship.

Annabel Laws, 17, of Akrotiri Square, in Watton, had been to McDonald's restaurant near Swaffham with close friends before the car she was travelling in crashed at nearby Sporle at about 12.30am on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Annabel, who had completed a year-long art and design diploma at Norwich's City College, had an interview at Knit Wits textile shop, in Dereham, for an eight-month apprenticeship in retail.

Bill Joisce who part owns the shop with his wife Fiona, said they were not looking for an apprentice but were told about Annabel at a jobs fair at Dereham Sixth Form six weeks ago, by JHP Training, which runs the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme.

He added they were going to ring the 17-year-old yesterday to let her know she had been successful and could start working part time at the shop at the beginning of next month.

Mr Joisce said: 'We had not met her before, but she came into the shop and was just sparkling. She had such an engaging personality. Her enthusiasm just shone through.'

Annabel, a former Wayland Community High School pupil, was a back-seat passenger in the black Seat Arosa car, which it is believed clipped a verge, seemingly after skidding on ice, and hit a tree in a field beside the North Pickenham Road.

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One of Annabel's friends, Lauren Eastoll was driving the car back to Watton, the front-seat passenger was Bradley Maund and the other back-seat passenger was Coral Gibbs.

Annabel suffered fatal injuries and her friends, aged between 17 and 18, who were also former Wayland Community High pupils, suffered minor injuries. A car, containing three more of their friends – who had also been to McDonald's – was behind them when the crash happened.

A police investigation into the crash was launched and a Norfolk road policing spokesman said the roads were 'treacherous' and 'icy', which is believed to have been a major contributory factor of the accident.

More than 1,000 people have joined a tribute page to Annabel on the Facebook networking website and her friends will be organising a concert in memory of the teenager.

Her mother Angela Calton, 42, said: 'She will be remembered for having a smile on her face, her laugh, always wearing her pyjamas and always being there for everyone. She would drop something and go round a friend's house if they needed her. She was a free spirit and was very creative.'

A funeral has not yet been organised and an inquest is due to be opened tomorrow.

Anyone with information about the crash should ring the Norfolk police non-emergency number 101 and ask for the serious collision investigation team based at Wymondham.

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