Derry girl Alexandra Johnston stood with tens of thousands of other screaming fans at Croke Park last month in front of her idols One Direction.
Like most of the young people there, she looked on from a distance, in awe of her musical heroes. It was a major highlight for the 12-year-old schoolgirl who had just spent months undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer known as Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Two weeks after attending the Croke Park concerts and Alexandra was sitting in a room facing the world’s most famous boyband. This week, en route for a checkup at hospital in Belfast, the St Cecilia’s pupil told the Journal all about meeting her favourite chart toppers.
“It was amazing, just amazing,” she said, clearly still reeling from the experience. “When I found out I was going to meet them I screamed. I just started screaming, it was the best news ever.”
The meeting was made possible for Alexandra by the Rays of Sunshine charity which helps grant the wishes of children who are living with serious or life-limiting illnesses. Alexandra’s wish was to meet One Direction.
The meet and greet was held in the Wembley arena two weeks ago where Alexandra joined a small number of other children and young people in a room with the famous boyband.
“It was the most exciting thing ever,” she told the Journal.
“They called us into a room and there were five empty seats in front of us. They had One Direction music playing in the background. The next thing, the five of them just walked into the room. I burst out crying straight away. They were really lovely and they were all talking, although Niall and Zayn were a bit shy. Niall’s always been my favourite but they were all really nice.”
Alexandra, who lives in Victoria Park, says she’ll always treasure the photograph she had taken with her favourite band.
“It’s amazing to have it. I still can’t believe it,” she laughed.
This week, Alexandra took the brave decision of going back to school for the first time since the treatment for her illness began.
“I was just back for two days to start with but it was lovely being back. Everyone at St Cecilia’s has been really lovely and they all wanted to know how I got on with One Direction.”
Asked what her friends’ reaction has been to the intimate meeting with the popular band Alexandra summed it up in one word,
“Jealous!” she laughed.
Alexandra is still living life to the full despite having been diagnosed with a tumour which spanned the entire length of her leg less than a year ago. Despite having undergone invasive treatment for her illness Alexandra is described as “the beacon” by staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for keeping other patients inspired as she battled her own illness.