Tyrone woman wins Britain's The Voice

Sunday 23 June 2013 21.53
During the final Andrea Begley performed The Script hit, Hall Of Fame
During the final Andrea Begley performed The Script hit, Hall Of Fame

A 27-year-old woman from Co Tyrone has won the BBC version of The Voice.

Partially-sighted Andrea Begley beat favourite and fellow Northern Ireland contestant Leah McFall.

Civil servant Andrea, who has 10% vision, was named as the 2013 winner and victor of the second series, also beating country crooner Mike Ward.

"I actually can't speak," she said, looking shocked.

The singer, who hails from the village of Pomeroy and was described as an inspiration by her coach Danny O'Donoghue from The Script, promised fans she would do her utmost to build on her win.

"Hopefully I'll try my best to put your vote to good use and be a success," she said.

In the run-up to the show, Andrea said being partially-sighted might help her in the final.

The winning singer had to memorise the lyrics to her song choices because she cannot read them off a monitor during the show.

But she said she wanted to be judged by her music, adding: "That's the way I expect the industry to take me, on the basis of what I do musically."

The singer joked that her lack of vision helps in some ways.

She said: "It sounds awful but I don't have to look at everybody and sometimes that can be a good thing if they don't look that happy to listen to me."

But it was Andrea who pulled in the most votes, and throughout the final she too enjoyed high praise from the coaches.

During the grand final, the 2013 victor took to the stage with The Script and performed their hit Hall Of Fame, which she said was "such an honour" and "such a privilege".

Andrea received rapturous response when she returned to her home village earlier this week, quipping: "Never mind being blind, I'll be deaf by the end of this."

Elsewhere, Celebrations erupted across the Palestinian territories at news that a wedding singer from Gaza won the Arab Idol talent TV show.

Mohammed Assaf, 23, was a virtual unknown until a few weeks ago but has now become a local hero.

The contest, held in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, was watched by millions across the region.

Fireworks were being set off in Gaza City and East Jerusalem as revellers thronged the streets.