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Boyzone's xmas gift to omagh bomb girl; Blind Claire meets idols.

BOYZONE used their day off yesterday to give an early Christmas present to an Omagh bomb victim.

They jetted into Northern Ireland from London to play their part in a surprise visit for teenager Claire Gallagher.

The 15-year-old, who was blinded in the blast, was one of eight people selected for a Noel Edmonds Christmas Day special called Christmas Presents.

She was nominated by a local man whose daughter is in Claire's music class.

Yesterday morning she turned up at St Joseph's Church Hall in Omagh just expecting to meet Edmonds.

She knew there was to be some kind of surprise, but never imagined her pop heroes would turn up.

Edmonds asked music-mad Claire to play one of her favourite songs on the piano. Without prompting, she picked Boyzone hit No Matter.

As she played the first notes of the song, the lads appeared from behind a curtain and launched into song.

Claire was flabbergasted to meet her idols. She was then presented with a hi-tech computer system that will help her carry on her music studies, which she has vowed to continue despite her injuries.

The talking computer carried a special message from the band to Claire, who recently won a scholarship to a top US university.

Ronan Keating said: "If only everyone had the strength that she has coming out of this terrible time.

"We were over the moon to help in any way especially as Christmas approaches.

"Her story will touch a lot of hearts."

And the singer, who invited Claire to come to their Belfast King's Hall concert on November 27, added: "I hope the computer will help her in the future."

Claire's delighted mum Marie said: "I was totally overwhelmed by Boyzone's performance.

"I was called on Monday morning and told Claire would meet the band at the end of the week."

Noel Edmonds said Claire is one in a million: "She is fantastic. Everyone affected by this tragedy will be inspired by Claire's story."

Boyzone, who are in Britain promoting their latest single I Love The Way You Love Me, stayed in Omagh for two hours.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Michael, Neil
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 20, 1998
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