Hayley Westenra flies across globe to sing with dying 14-year-old video

KIRK HARGREAVES/Stuff.co.nz

Deborah Barkley gets a dying wish to sing with her idol Hayley Westenra

Dying teenager Deborah Barkley knows almost every Hayley Westenra song by heart. 

The 14-year-old had a wish to sing with her idol before she died. Westenra flew across the globe to make it come true.

Diagnosed with meta chromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) last December , the white matter of Deborah's brain and central nervous system is degenerating.

Hayley Westenra flew from London to sing with Deborah.
KIRK HARGREAVES / FAIRFAXNZ

Hayley Westenra flew from London to sing with Deborah.

Over time, the North Canterbury girl will lose sensation in her extremities, experience incontinence, seizures, paralysis and lose the ability to speak, see and hear. Eventually, she will lose awareness of her surroundings and become unresponsive. 

When the Make A Wish Foundation offered to grant Deborah a dying wish, it was an easy choice.

"Deborah loves Hayley Westenra," said her mother, Jenny. "She got an album for Christmas last year and she drove us nuts with the songs. She knows every one by heart."

Deborah Barkley, 14, is a massive Hayley Westenra fan. Her dying wish came true when she got to sing with her idol ...
KIRK HARGREAVES / FAIRFAXNZ

Deborah Barkley, 14, is a massive Hayley Westenra fan. Her dying wish came true when she got to sing with her idol alongside the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra at the Air Force Museum.

Westenra, New Zealand's golden girl of song , flew from her home in London to spend a few short hours with Deborah in Christchurch on Saturday.

"Singapore Airlines flew her here for us, and she has come, in her own time, to make this wish come true," foundation co-ordinator Ellie Teller said. 

The magic took place in a chilly aircraft hangar at the Air Force Museum in Wigram, where the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra has been rehearsing.

Deborah conducts the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, with the help of conductor Benjamin Northey.
KIRK HARGREAVES / FAIRFAXNZ

Deborah conducts the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, with the help of conductor Benjamin Northey.

Deborah, in a long dress covered in red roses, sat one row back from the stage with friends and family as Westenra, who is from Christchurch, took the stage. 

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"We're going to keep this casual, is that cool Deborah?" Westenra asked. "We haven't rehearsed, we're just going to play it by ear." 

Westenra sang with the orchestra before inviting Deborah up. The two sang May it Be from the Lord of the Rings, another of Deborah's favourites. 

The piece concluded with Deborah conducting the orchestra, helped by conductor Benjamin Northey. 

She and Westenra went on to sing the national anthem. The audience stood and joined in at Westenra's request. 

Westenra did not wish to be interviewed afterwards. Instead, she spent about an hour taking selfies with Deborah and talking with the girl's family. 

"The fact that [Westenra] came here, for this, is just amazing. Huge respect for her," a CSO horn player said. 

"When we were asked after a rehearsal a couple of days ago if we'd like to stay behind today and do this, I'm proud to say that every single one of us, unanimously and without hesitation, put our hands up. It was one of those real magic moments. This is another one."

 - Stuff

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