A BRAVE South Tyneside schoolgirl enjoyed a Little Mix magic moment after catching up with her chart-topping pop idols.
The meet and greet at the Soundwaves event in Bents Park, South Shields, was music to the ears of 10-year-old Tiana Smedley, who has suffered a turbulent 10 months since the tragic loss of her beloved father.
Mark Smedley died suddenly at the age of just 39 in November last year – just a day before his 12th wedding anniversary and his wife’s birthday – from a heart attack.
Just six months later, the family, from Cobbett Crescent, Biddick Hall, South Shields, faced a another blow when Tiana’s mum, Mandie, suffered a broken leg in May.
She is wheelchair-bound, but hopes to walk unaided by the end of the year.
As well as having to come to terms with the loss of her dad, Tiana was thrust into the role of carer for her mum, helping out in the house without a word of complaint. Tyne Gateway Trust, a charity which provides financial and emotional support for families in need, has offered vital assistance to Mandie and Tiana since Mark died.
The charity’s family support worker, Karen Bainbridge, thought Tiana was deserving of a treat – and set about organising a meeting with the mega-selling band.
After months of hard work, she secured the meeting with the group just days before the gig.
Tiana, a pupil at Forest View Primary School in South Shields, has loved the band since they first rose to fame on X Factor, and has her own Little Mix shrine of merchandise in her bedroom.
The group signed a treasured picture of Tia and her dad during the memorable meeting.
Tiana said: “It was really exciting to meet the girls. They were lovely to me. They’re my favourite band. I think I’m an even bigger fan now.”
Mrs Smedley was delighted Tiana got her Little Mix moment.
She said: “Mark was the type of person who would do anything for anyone.
“He was always helping someone else. I think Tia has taken after him. She was always a daddy’s girl. She wouldn’t go to sleep at night until her dad had been in to see her.
“It’s been a very tough for her, but she was really excited to see Little Mix and I was just as excited too.
“I would really like to to thank Karen Bainbridge and Tyne Gateway Trust for all their support. It’s been invaluable to us.
“Thankfully, Karen and Tiana got on straight away. She been staying very strong and didn’t want to get upset in front of me as she thought it would upset me. Speaking to Karen allowed her to let her feelings out.”
Karen said: “Working with Tiana and Mandie has been very emotional but it has been very rewarding. Tiana is inspirational.”
The charity has helped the family secure a council house to reduce their monthly outgoings and even helped drive Tiana to school when necessary.
For more information on the charity, visit tynegatewaytrust.co.uk