Northern Ireland

Late Late Toy Show: ‘Tessa woke up the next morning and asked if she had dreamt it’

Tessa Evans (centre) pictured with Alisha Weir and her fellow Matildas on Friday's Late Late Toy Show, and (right), the moment the ten-year-old met the Dublin-born film star. (Images: RTÉ)
Tessa Evans (centre) pictured with Alisha Weir and her fellow Matildas on Friday's Late Late Toy Show, and (right), the moment the ten-year-old met the Dublin-born film star. (Images: RTÉ) Tessa Evans (centre) pictured with Alisha Weir and her fellow Matildas on Friday's Late Late Toy Show, and (right), the moment the ten-year-old met the Dublin-born film star. (Images: RTÉ)

Maghera schoolgirl Tessa Evans enjoyed her own Matilda miracle on Friday’s Late Late Toy Show, on a night when Patrick Kielty won plaudits for his presenting debut on the RTÉ flagship programme.

Already beaming from a video message from Alisha Weir, ten-year-old Tessa was left speechless when the Dublin-born star of Matilda The Musical appeared in person behind her.

The Bunscoil Naomh Bríd pupil, who was born without a nose due to a rare condition called Bosma Arhinia Microphthalmia (BAM) syndrome, was left beaming as she ran off the set hand-in-hand with her idol.

Speaking on Sunday, her mother Gráinne said the Co Derry girl was still on cloud nine.

"Tessa woke up the next morning and asked if she had dreamt meeting Alisha.

"It was a really magical moment for Tessa and I've never seen her stuck for words before!

Read more:

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“There were plenty of nerves in the green room with the other parents of the performers, but it was a really supportive atmosphere with everyone cheering on each other's kids.”

Broadcast just one day after the horrific events outside a primary school in Dublin city centre, Patrick Kielty reminded viewers of the importance of “holding your kids tight this Christmas”, adding: “We are thinking of every family who needs an extra hug tonight."

Gráinne Evans said the entire night was very emotional for all the families involved, and one they will never forget.

"To see her hug Alisha and walk off-stage with her was just so beautiful.

Tessa during her performance of 'Naughty', from Matilda the Musical.
Tessa during her performance of 'Naughty', from Matilda the Musical. Tessa during her performance of 'Naughty', from Matilda the Musical.

“Alisha was just wonderful with them, she is such a fantastic role model.

“Tessa has made such wonderful friends from her cas mates too. Definitely a bond they'll share for life.”

The Maghera woman also praised the inclusive nature of the programme.

“It was really fantastic to see her included and to be able to represent kids with visible differences on such a huge stage.”

The moment Tessa embraced Alisha Weir.
The moment Tessa embraced Alisha Weir. The moment Tessa embraced Alisha Weir.

“Tessa's family in America and Canada were able to watch too which was brilliant. And we've been inundated with messages of support and congratulations from Tessa's followers all over the world.

“It's been non-stop loveliness,” she added.

“The first thing Tessa did the next morning was put on Matilda the musical. it'll be a while before we can get that song out of our heads!”