Belfast Telegraph

Model Kate Grant left dancing on air as Cliona Hagan surprises her live on RTE

Kate Grant with Cliona Hagan
Kate Grant with Cliona Hagan
Kate Grant with mum Deirdre
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Co Tyrone model Kate Grant says it was a dream come true to watch her friend Cliona Hagan performing on RTE's Dancing With The Stars at the weekend.

The 20-year-old from Cookstown is taking the fashion world by storm and has set her sights on becoming the world's first supermodel with Down's syndrome.

On Saturday night she appeared on RTE's Ray D'Arcy Show alongside her mum Deirdre.

She also came face-to-face with another famous Tyrone woman, country singer Cliona with her dance partner Robert Rowinski.

The young model had made a list of five goals to achieve at the beginning of the year and one of them was to attend Dancing With The Stars to see Cliona strut her stuff.

So Kate was thrilled when her musical idol surprised her with an appearance on the chat show to present her with tickets to Sunday night's live TV performance.

Cliona (29), from Ballinderry, is taking a short break from her singing career to take part in the RTE dance contest.

She is the first person from Northern Ireland to compete in the competition and is hoping to bring the coveted Glitter Ball trophy home.

Kate told the Belfast Telegraph: "This meant so much to me because I love Cliona and her singing. She really inspires me.

"It was a totally amazing weekend and a lot of fun meeting such lovely people."

Deirdre added: "We had the most wonderful time and were treated like VIPs.

"We had the best seats in the house to watch the dancing and met all the celebrity contestants, judges, professional dancers and backstage crew.

"I knew in advance of the secret that we would be going to the show, but Kate had no notion.

"She thought we were staying an extra night in Dublin on Sunday as part a girly weekend with her mum and sister Ella, so it was a huge shock when she realised what was happening."

Kate recently became a brand ambassador for cosmetics giant Benefit, which sells its make-up products at over 2,000 counters in more than 30 countries across the world.

The brand invited Kate to take part in a photoshoot and video as part of its marketing campaign for its latest product, a liquid eyeliner.

Kate Grant with Cliona Hagan
Kate Grant with Cliona Hagan

The company had spotted a video of Kate on social media charting her attempt to break into the fashion industry and said that it instantly fell in love with her spirit.

Kate first hit the headlines after Deirdre put out a plea on social media asking for her daughter to be given experience as a model.

She got her first real taste of the glamorous world of fashion thanks to Cathy Martin, who invited her to take part in Belfast Fashion Week in 2017.

Now Kate, who has over 31,000 followers on Instagram, is hoping that her platform as a model will help inspire other people with disabilities.

Cliona, who survived Sunday night's public vote to dance again next weekend, revealed that her uncle Paul has Down's syndrome.

She said: "He is an integral part of our family and we are beyond blessed to have him.

"Paul cannot speak and has the mental ability of a five-year-old.

"He was given only five days to live as a baby due to heart complications, but has surpassed all expectations and 54 years later God has still blessed us with this beautiful angel."

Paying tribute to Kate, Cliona added: "Everyone in Tyrone is so proud of Kate and the work she is doing to raise awareness of the Down's syndrome community. I'm so proud to be able to call her my beautiful friend."

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