Elton faithful to the very end

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The Independent Online
THEY MARVELLED at Lou-ise Woodward's composure and her self-assurance. She was in control. Nothing, it seemed, could faze her.

The teenage girl who left the village of Elton, in Cheshire, for Boston, Massachusetts, two years ago was now a confident and able woman.

"You knew she was speaking from the heart, speaking the truth," said Diane Jones, her primary school teacher.

Ms Jones was talking over the garden gate at the home of Sandra McCabe, spokeswoman for the Woodward support committee. They were mulling over Miss Woodward's performance at her Manchester Airport press conference early yesterday in front of dozens of camera crews and reporters.

They were pleased she came over so well on television in a situation which clearly her parents, sitting close to her, found difficult.

The campaigners themselves felt confident she would clear her name and make a good life for herself. "She has talked of going to university and I think that's a good idea," said Ms Jones. "It's going to be tough for her, but once she's been to university people would forget who she is and let her just get on with it.

"I don't know what she would study but I remember she was a good all-rounder at school," she added.

Mrs McCabe, laughing for the first time in what has been a long week for her and the committee, said they would always be there for the Woodwards.

Her home faces on to The Rigger pub, headquarters for both the campaign and the media. Yesterday the small car park was filled with satellite vans waiting to beam back reactions to her return.

In the afternoon the vans began to drift away as it became clear there would be no more that day from Louise, who was said to be fast asleep.

On the trees outside her home, yellow ribbons, the adopted symbol of the campaign, were drooping under the weight of heavy rain.