Belfast Telegraph

Selfless Emily (10) has magical night at Aladdin premiere with Will Smith

Emily and sister Luciana meet Aladdin star Will Smith
Emily and sister Luciana meet Aladdin star Will Smith
Emily and sister Luciana meet Aladdin star Naomi Scott
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A Co Fermanagh girl who raised £20,000 for charity after her little brother's death in a farm accident has been left overjoyed thanks to a surprise meeting with the stars of new Disney film Aladdin.

Emily Magee (10) from Maguiresbridge was invited to the film's premiere in Leicester Square, London, where she was thrilled by a welcome from Hollywood favourites Will Smith and Naomi Scott, who play the Genie and Princess Jasmine.

After losing younger brother Thomas in the accident in April 2017, Emily threw herself into fundraising for the Make-A-Wish Foundation as her way of coping with the loss.

Her mother Jackie said the trip to London was a proud moment that came just days before what would have been Thomas' seventh birthday.

"It was totally unexpected, Emily didn't even know what the word premiere meant never mind the opportunity to meet such big stars," she said.

Together with her mum, dad David and younger sister Luciana (4), Emily found herself on the red carpet surrounded by screaming fans and photographers. "They were just overwhelmed by the whole experience," said Mrs Magee.

"Luciana is Disney mad and she really thought she was going to meet a real princess.

"Will Smith came over and chatted to us like we were friends, he was so down to earth and such a lovely, kind man."

The family were also delighted when the star presented them with an invitation to Disneyland Paris.

"He spent a lot of time with the girls, chatting to them, as did other celebrities like Alan Menken (who composed the original music for Aladdin).

"Mena Massoud (who plays Aladdin) even lifted Luciana up in his arms, but she actually said to him she was waiting for Princess Jasmine, so she wasn't a bit shy."

The sisters also received a warm reception from actress Scott when they presented her with a collectable key for Make-A-Wish.

"She hugged both the girls and wrote a lovely message in Emily's autograph book," said Mrs Magee. "They were just over the Moon afterwards, and so starstruck.

"Davy and I could never have given the girls an opportunity or an experience like that.

"It's just a lovely memory for them to treasure, but it's just sad that it's without Thomas with us."

Following the loss of their son, Mrs Magee said it felt like his wake lasted for months in the family home.

"Because it was a child's funeral, a lot of people couldn't face going," she said.

"They waited until afterwards to come up; our house was full of people and it didn't feel like home anymore."

Around this time Emily decided to take her first steps into fundraising.

Having enjoyed baking with her brother, she asked her school to hold a cake sale.

This soon progressed into a coffee morning that raised a staggering £8,000.

The success then spurred her on to host a sponsored walk in Gortin Glen, which raised an even higher sum.

Her inspiring efforts saw her honoured at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards last year.

Emily chose Make-A-Wish as her charity, her mother said, as a fitting tribute for Thomas.

"He was happy at home, being out on the farm and running around," she said.

"So his wish was granted every day.

"That's something I'm very thankful for - that our memories of him will always be of his smiling face.

"That's why Emily wanted to make the wishes of children that were not well come true.

"Emily would call it her strategy, it was just to help others and take away from her own sadness and grief.

"The London visit was actually just before what would have been Thomas' seventh birthday on May 13.

"We all struggle around his birthday, it can be so raw.

"So this was almost like a birthday present from Thomas that we got to go and do something nice to remember him."

Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children with critical illnesses. To make a donation to help a child experience their One True Wish, or to find out more, please visit make-a-wish.org.uk or telephone 01276 405060.

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