Northern Ireland

'We hope Tessa appearing on the show will inspire and help others' - Co Derry girl on Late Late Toy Show

Tessa Evans from Maghera will appear on the Late Late Toy Show on Friday
Tessa Evans from Maghera will appear on the Late Late Toy Show on Friday

A 10-year-old schoolgirl from Co Derry is to take on a starring role in this year’s Late Late Toy Show.

Tessa Evans from Maghera told of her excitement on Wednesday at being selected from thousands of hopefuls to join the annual RTÉ festive extravaganza on Friday night.

Her mother Gráinne has also described the family's pride that Tessa, who was born without a nose due to a rare condition called Bosma Arhinia Microphthalmia (BAM) syndrome, will "represent those with a facial difference".

"This is a huge thing for her, we hope that Tessa appearing on the show will inspire and help others," she said.

Tessa will chat with Co Down comedian Patrick Kielty on the show, his first Toy Show since taking over from Ryan Tubridy, however, the exact details of her appearance remain under wraps.

Tessa at her audition at RTÉ in Dublin
Tessa at her audition at RTÉ in Dublin

A P7 pupil at St Brigid's Primary School, Tirkane/ Bunscoil Naomh Bríd, Tessa said she was encouraged to audition by her teacher.

"She suggested I apply so I told my mum and we sent in a video where I had to talk about a few toys," she said.

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"I talked about my baby doll and secret safe diary."

After passing the first stage of the application process, Tessa was invited to an audition in Dublin.

"I had to go into a room where there were six people in front of me and talk about toys," she said.

Her mother admitted she was "more nervous" than Tessa when the second audition began.

"I had to stay out of the room, she just went in herself, I found it quite emotional," she said.

"She simply walked on in and didn't look back. Then I could hear lots of laughing from the room, she said she just chatted away to them.

"Tessa has such a bubbly personality and that comes across, which is why her teacher suggested that she should apply."

Tessa said she was delighted when they received a phone call to say her auditions had been successful.

"I was really, really, really, really excited when my mum told me," she said. 

"I couldn't believe it at the start.

"I'm really excited for Friday, but a bit nervous too."

She added that the family are "delighted" Tessa was selected and also believe her appearance on the show will inspire others.

"It's like every child's dream to be on the show, we've all grown up watching it, we are so excited for her," she said.

""We couldn't be more proud of her, it's a really amazing achievement.

"But it's also about giving a representation to children with a facial difference, like Tessa.

"Her condition means that she was born without a nose, when she was born there were just 37 cases of it in medical history, so it was so rare."

Tessa is also blind in one eye and has slight impairment in the other. 

"I later set up a support group to help others and we now are in touch with people all over the world," she said.

"So for Tessa to be chosen to appear on the show is amazing, she will represent those with a facial difference.

"This is a huge thing for her, we hope that Tessa appearing on the show will inspire and help others.

"Just a few days after she appears on the Toy Show, she's due to go to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for more surgery, but she just takes it all in her stride.

"We are so proud of her and know that she will be amazing."

The Late Late Toy Show will be on RTÉ One on Friday at 9.35pm.