X Factor judges bowled over by Holywood nurse Laura Johnston
X Factor fans from Northern Ireland got behind Co Down mum-of-two Laura Johnston last night as she gave a rip-roaring performance to blast her way through to the next round of the hit tv show.
The nursery nurse from Holywood belted out the Aretha Franklin classic 'Natural Woman' and she revealed to judges that now her children have grown up she wants to give singing her all.
Laura told the judges: "I have done singing. I sang when the children were smaller - the kids came first."
And she agreed with judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini that now it is her turn.
Cheryl said Laura looked "fabulous" and fellow judge Simon Cowell added: "You look good," which drew a "thank you" from the local hopeful. After her song, which saw the crowd go wild and ended up with hugs backstage, another of the judges - Rita Ora - said she was happy there was a category for older entrants.
Said Ora: "So happy that the 'Overs' exist. That was a really great vocal, it really was."
Speaking before the show went out, Laura said she was confident she could get through.
Laura was given her shot at stardom by winning over a panel from the show during auditions in Dublin earlier this year.
She had revealed she was driven to take part by her family.
She said: "My kids are responsible for me doing it.
"I used to sing years ago before I had them and have always seen it as a hobby, so they told me I should go for it.
"I'm really glad for them that I did it too - because I admire those people who give it a go - you can't regret something you didn't do, so I had to put my money where my mouth is."
On social media there was immediately a lot of home support for Laura.
One said on Facebook: 'She did us proud in Northern Ireland. Great audition Laura!'
Another said: 'Well done!! You sounded great! I think we may have gone to college together in Holywood. Good luck my dear, will be rooting for you!'
Another user said: 'Go on Laura!!! Doing it for Northern Ireland!!' and others praised Laura as outstanding and said she had a fantastic voice.
Meanwhile, a farmer who dreams of swapping mucking out for a microphone and a backing singer who has performed with Tina Turner were among the aspiring hopefuls who also got through to the next round of the programme.
In last night's episode of the ITV show, viewers saw Hannah Marie Kilminster, a 30-year-old who works on the family farm in Cirencester, take all four judges by surprise and win their votes with her powerful rendition of Queen's Somebody To Love.
"Bloody hell. Where did that come from?" said Cowell.
He added: "I'm slightly speechless because I wasn't expecting that."
Fernandez-Versini added: "You look like a country bumpkin... but you are a fantastic singer."