Town rallies round Janet as grieving teen sings through her heartache

Laura Butler

X FACTOR hopeful Janet Devlin's home town is hosting a party in her honour tonight -- on the same day her grandfather is laid to rest.

Fellow contestant Sami Brookes said today that the grieving 16-year-old will be "fine" to perform despite the heartache.

And her biggest supporters in the Co Tyrone village of Gortin will pile into their community centre to cheer her on.

"Everybody is rooting for her and we know she can go the whole way to the end of the show," Jonathan Porter, assistant manager of Owenkillew community centre, told the Herald.

"It's very important to rally behind her -- she needs support now more than ever."

Welsh finalist Sami (31) said she has been looking after the Irish teen in the wake of her grandfather's death.

"Because I'm the oldest girl in the house, I fuss about the other girls. I even make sure Janet takes her vitamins because she's a vegetarian.

"She is okay, she stayed in my room the other night but I think she'll be fine on Saturday night."

More than 200 people packed into the community centre, to watch Janet on a big screen as she wowed audiences last weekend on the series.

But with the teenager missing her grandfather's funeral to perform, the crowds are expected to double tonight.

"The town has never seen anything like this before, Janet has really put Gortin on the map," said Jonathan, who added that the centre is set to open for both nights of the live rounds this weekend.

To help welcome the crowds, the centre and its buildings have been decorated in banners with Janet's face.

And a crew from ITV are believed to be planning a live broadcast from the venue on Sunday for voting results.

"They were going to do it from Janet's house but her parents Patricia and Aquinas asked us to take over due to the sad circumstances this week," said Jonathan.

"We're hoping the TV execs will really show off her home town and the community here -- they really want to capture the atmosphere and see everyone cheering for her."