Aylsham teen born with cleft palate proves confidence comes from within

PUBLISHED: 08:30 02 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:15 02 March 2018

Phoebe McCann. Picture: Sam McCann

Phoebe McCann. Picture: Sam McCann

Sam McCann

When an Aylsham mum gave birth to a daughter with a cleft palate in 2001, she was worried that her little girl would grow up bullied and with diminished confidence.

Phoebe appearing in Black Widow. Picture: Sam McCannPhoebe appearing in Black Widow. Picture: Sam McCann

But 16 years later, Phoebe McCann has grown into a talented young lady, and will be taking the stage by storm as she stars in her school’s all-out production of 42nd Street.

Phoebe, who attends Aylsham High School, will be playing lead Peggy Sawyer when the show debuts in March.

“I’m really excited,” said Phoebe. “I’m actually most excited for when the show ends and you come out of your dressing room and get to talk to the audience who have just seen it.”

The GCSE student continued: “If I could go back and tell my younger self something I’d just say do what you love. I used to put myself down for it but I’m quite lucky because if it hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be as confident now.”

Phoebe when she was a baby. Picture: Sam McCannPhoebe when she was a baby. Picture: Sam McCann

Phoebe has already had multiple operations, including having a section of her hip removed to fill a hole in the roof of her mouth.

“Theatre has really helped me. You have to be very confident on stage and I think that confidence then really shows in real life,” she added.

Mum Sam McCann said: “My worry has always been that she would get picked on at school. When we were growing up the surgery wasn’t as good so children born with cleft palates you could tell, and they were always quite shy and quiet.

“I was determined that wouldn’t happen to Phoebe and it never has. I think girls especially can be quite self conscious about the way they look, and when I hear other girls talking I realise that Phoebe is probably more confident than them,” continued the primary school teacher.

Phoebe appearing in Black Widow. Picture: Sam McCannPhoebe appearing in Black Widow. Picture: Sam McCann

Phoebe underwent two operations before the age of one because of her cleft palate, and will have to have further jaw and nose surgery as she cannot currently chew properly.

“It’s not something we talk about really,” said Mrs McCann, the Oakfield Road resident. “The staff at Addenbrooke’s where she goes are always so lovely. We’re so proud of her, she’s beautiful.”

To see Phoebe in action, tickets are on sale for the Aylsham High show from TicketSource.

The shows will be taking place from March 14 to 17.

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