Three dreams in one
When the board received an application for Scarlett to see Shane Filan there was no hesitation in saying yes. Scarlett is a 14 year old girl with cerebral palsy and an unfettered love of Shane Filan. Yes she loves Westlife, but Shane is on another level to her.
Scarlett has no speech but will giggle with joy and hiss at you with displeasure when necessary. She is barely five stone as she burns up so much energy with involuntary movements and the doctors have prescribed a super calorific drink to keep the weight on. Her eldest sister Kayleigh, who introduced her to Westlife is also a carer for her at home when she isn't at work.
The application was for Scarlett and her mum, Suzanne to take her. Having got in touch with the family and hearing more about Scarlett and her love for Shane we decided we would try for a meet and greet. Like any teenager in love with a band Scarlett has the merchandise, the CDs, the DVDs. When she watches the Westlife DVD she is entranced until Shane is in close up when she bursts into tears as this is her guy, her love. It's all about Shane.
Thanks to plenty of help we managed to get a meet and greet organised and the details were needed by Liam, Shane's tour manager. I spoke to mum to get the full names and she said Kayleigh would be going in her place as she loves Westlife and cares for Scarlett. This was a great gesture by Suzanne but I was left feeling disappointed that mum wouldn't see her daughter's face and share the joy.
The Grand Pavillion, Porthcawl was the venue for the big night and Given To Live and Scarlett's family met up nice and early for cups of tea and arranging things. Mum and Dad drove them down and were going to spend the evening waiting in their van with fish and chips until Scarlett and Kayleigh came out. Well, that's one way to do it but let's see if we can't get an extra pair for Mum and Dad...which Trudi, the meet and greet organiser, says yes so we have the family in.
Scarlett is a bundle of joy and excitement and that's without knowing she's going to meet Shane which we've kept as a surprise. Also to make sure she slept in the days running up to the show because sleep was tricky for her just knowing she was seeing a concert of Shane's. Mum and Dad get to see the looks and their daughter's faces.
Scarlett sees Shane for the first time as he walks onstage for a two song pre set for the meet and greet. Delirious with joy...ecstatic...in raptures. Take your pick, Scarlett is all of these and more. She meets Shane afterwards and he was great with her, having photos and signing.
The show proper starts and Scarlett is so happy and dancing in her chair. But it is a lot to take in for her. All this excitement bottled up inside her, popping and crackling with no-where to go. She has to have a break and be taken out after a while but manages to go back in. She stays until Flying Without Wings, her absolute favourite song and then has to leave.
Leaves exhausted, overjoyed, with her meet and greet laminate proudly hanging around her neck, resting aginst her new Shane Filan tee shirt.
I speak to Suzanne a couple of days after the show to find out how Scarlett is doing after such a night. Giggling plenty and won't go anywhere without her meet and greet laminate. In fact at night she ruefully accepts she can't sleep with the laminate around her neck. That's ok so long as it's draped over the tv where she can go to sleep seeing it. If it;s not on the tv you'll get hissed at until it is. Shane Filan laminates have to be in the right place after all.
Mum said something to me a few days later that will stay with me for a long time.
She told me she had a wish that she would win the lottery one day and pay for Shane Filan to shake Scarlett's hand, so her hero would be able to meet her hero.
A lot of wishes came true that day.
Suzanne (Scarlett's mum) -
"You people are truly amazing , I really can't thank you all enough for what you did , Scarlett still sleeps with her meet and greet pendant draped on her TV so she can see it.
Also Scarlett & Kayleigh have huge photos of their meet with Shane in their bedrooms.
It is a dream come true for my beautiful girls and my biggest wish has been granted , Tom and all at given to live , Shane Filan his lovely wife Gillian and of course the lovely Liam I thank you all xxx. "