'Mark Hamill was everything I ever imagined him to be and then some' - Irish teen cancer survivor's emotional meeting with Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker
Published 17/05/2016 | 07:25
They say never meet your heroes - but that couldn't be further from the truth for one brave Irish cancer survivor teen who had breakfast with Luke Skywalker.
Jamie Harkin (17) from Derry was diagnosed in June 2011 with Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer and suffered a relapse in January 2013.
Having beaten the disease twice in five years, the 17-year-old has been seriously ill since January this year.
A Star Wars fan since he was three, the teenager dreamed of one day meeting his galactic heroes.
And he got the surprise of his life yesterday morning as Luke Skywalker himself joined him for breakfast at the Redcastle hotel in Donegal.
It was a once in a lifetime opportunity after Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver aka Luke Skywalker, Rey and Kylo Ren - instead of being in a galaxy far, far away were in Donegal to film the latest installment in the science-fiction epic.
The iconic Millennium Falcon also docked not far from Jamie's home at Malin Head in Co Donegal.
The determined teen runs Jamie's Journie, a community to help those in the north west suffering from cancer, raising over £15,000 (€19,185).
He has set up experiences for many young people - but with his heroes so close by filming Star Wars Episode VIII in Donegal - Jamie's mum thought it was time something was done for him.
Mum Patricia launched an online appeal to get the actor's attention using the hashtag #StarWarsForJJ on social media.
- Read More: Seriously ill teen who has beaten cancer twice desperate to meet cast of Star Wars in Donegal
And on Saturday she got the call she had been waiting on, the meeting was going to happen but she was now faced with the task of keeping it a secret all weekend.
Jamie had no idea what was happening as he thought he was going to the hotel for breakfast with one of the youngest members of Jamie's Journie, Ciaran Murphy (1) who was home from hospital for the weekend.
As they were all sitting discussing Star Wars - Jamie got the shock of his life as Mark Hamill walked in.
Posting on his social media page afterwards Jamie said he couldn't believe it had happened and told of the emotional meeting with both him and the Hollywood actor being reduced to tears.
"Even now there's a wealth of emotions running through me, I'm definitely still in shock, I'm absolutely elated, incredibly humbled, honoured and just completely overwhelmed."
He continues: "I finally met my idol today. I had breakfast with Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill himself. People say that you should never meet your idols, because you build them up in your head so much that when you do meet them, they are a let down, and to that, I say, you're wrong."
"Mark was everything I ever imagined him to be and then some."
"As he walked in completely out of the blue Jamie stood up to shake his hand, but the Hollywood star told him "you don't need to stand up for me".
'Everybody was in tears'
Mark then shared with Jamie some words of inspiration which he said reduced them both to tears.
Jamie said: "He chatted to everyone for a while, before turning to me, and he told me something that I really needed to hear after the last few weeks and months that I've had. I promised myself that I wouldn't cry, but I just couldn't help it, and then Mark hugged me and as he was sitting down, I saw that he was crying too.
"Seeing him like that, in normal clothes as opposed to Jedi robes, talking about normal things as opposed to saving the galaxy, he really is an extraordinary actor, not just because he played my childhood hero, but because despite being the star of the biggest franchise ever, he is still completely down to earth, and has remained human."
The pair then spent the next hour and a half chatting about the "good old days" with Mark telling them stories as Jamie sat "enthralled" listening intently to his hero.
'An experience we'll never regret'
Patricia told the Belfast Telegraph that Mark was a "gentleman" and that it was a surreal experience they will never forget.
She said: "He gave Jamie really inspirational words and it was just such a surreal experience. I'm still speechless. He spent well over an hour, it was just like sitting down with an old friend. He was an amazing, charismatic person. It was just unbelievable.
"Everybody was completely comfortable and Jamie was just totally gobsmacked and overwhelmed and so happy."
"We were just sitting there and Mark just walked in and Jamie was talking and he just gasped.
"It was just an incredible moment for Jamie and as his parents sitting watching."
Patricia said they have been overwhelmed by the public support to get the attention of the actor.
She said: "It was the most lovely experience and one I'll never forget.
"We are just totally overwhelmed by the support from the public.
She added: "They were embracing and he had Jamie in tears and everybody was in tears.
"He was crying too, saying that Jamie was such a hero and saying how he was an incredible man and that he was the real hero. Jamie was in tears, he was in tears and Mark just held him for about five minutes."