Fifteen year old Ballymena girl Shealyn Magill was born with a severe heart condition and over the last year her health has deteriorated and she has been unable to carry out her big passion - acting.
Shealyn has always admired the actress Helena Bonham Carter for the quirky characters that she plays and aspires to take on similar roles.
So Make-A-Wish Foundation® UK, the charity that grants magical wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening conditions, granted Shealyn’s wish to meet her favourite actress…
Shealyn, arrived at The Dorchester and was taken to the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Penthouse for afternoon tea with Helena. They chatted like old friends for hours about Shealyn’s condition and Helena’s acting career. When the afternoon came to an end Helena presented Shealyn with a special edition of a replica wand used by Bellatrix in Harry Potter! Shealyn had brought Helena a gift – a Celtic brooch she designed herself which Helena put on straight way.
Shealyn said: “Helena has inspired me to keep going. The wish had a huge impact as I have been feeling very down about the fact that I am in heart failure, however the wish gave me a boost when I needed it most.”
Shealyn first had heart surgery at 10 months old which sustained her for six years, and in 2005 she had a heart valve transplant. In June 2013, Shealyn was told she was still in heart failure, that her valve was leaking and that she had a swollen left ventricle. This meant her vertebrae twisted and she developed scoliosis. In September 2013 Shealyn had a mechanical valve implant, but has been told she may need a heart transplant.
Helena said: “Shealyn talks about me being an inspiration but she is the real one, together with her sister and mother. It was my privilege to meet and spend time with her. I’ve often thought pretending for a living is not the most useful or grown up ways of spending one’s life, but if I can make an iota of difference to someone’s life just by meeting them then I feel for once it was a day well spent. Make-A-Wish is an extraordinary charity that makes magical encounters happen. And trust me, the magic works both ways.”
Shealyn’s mum, Clare, said: “The wish provided a positive light in Shealyn’s life. She often doesn’t like people knowing about her condition, but meeting Helena allowed her to embrace who she is in front of someone she really admires.”
There are currently 20,000 children and young people in the UK fighting a life-threatening condition. This year, we hope to grant 900 wishes and need to raise £7 million to continue granting wishes in the future. Make-A-Wish receives no government funding – so every donation really does count.
To make a donation to Make-A-Wish please visit www.make-a-wish.org.uk or telephone 01276 40 50 60.