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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Hannah (16) takes Twitter by storm after introduction

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

She is the 16-year-old who is trending on Twitter after introducing Michelle Obama on stage.

Hannah Nelson wrote a speech about the need to make "peace permanent" in the middle of studying for her GCSE exams (the equivalent of the Junior Cert) – and found herself getting hugged by Michelle Obama a week later.

"It was a situation I never thought I would be in. I didn't expect much to come of it. It was just a thing to do during my exams," she said.

She had been told about a competition to deliver a speech before the Obamas took the stage by her mother, who is a schoolteacher. She found out last week that she had won.

Then she found herself preparing to go before a crowd of 2,000 people at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. But she got some help beforehand during her chat with President Obama and his wife Michelle.

"They told me they read my speech and thought it was very good. They were very nice and made me feel at ease. It got rid of a lot of my nerves," he said.

Her sincere and confidently delivered speech about moving on from the troubled past got an enthusiastic reaction. "We, the young people in Northern Ireland, want to live in peace," she told the crowd.

Mr Obama singled Hannah out in his own speech, saying that she was an 'extraordinary young woman' who we would hear more of in the future.

Hannah, who lives in south Belfast, said she had friends from different communities. But she said that there was still more to do in the North.

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