Standing with the film’s star Rosa Salazar, Tilly proudly showed off her brand-new bionic hands made by Open Bionics and paid for by the film studio behind Alita, Twentieth Century Fox.
Tilly’s hands were amputated after she contracted MenB at just 15 months old.
According to Tilly’s mum and Meningitis Now Community Fundraiser Sarah Lockey, Tilly was surprised with the gift of the new hands just the night before the premiere while they were staying at the Dorchester Hotel in central London.
“She was in one room and the film crew were waiting secretly next door,” Sarah told us.
“She had come down to London thinking she was just coming for a photoshoot – so it was a complete surprise when the film crew came in and presented her with her new arms, telling her she was a real-life Alita."
“She was completely gobsmacked”.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Alita: Battle Angel is described as a “cyberpunk action film” set in a future where cyborgs are given bionic limbs. Open Bionics, the company that works with Tilly to help develop bionic hands for kids, collaborated with Fox on the movie. Thanks to this partnership they were asked to nominate someone to receive a pair of “Alita hands” and immediately thought of Tilly.
The icing on the cake was that not only did Tilly get a new pair of hands, she also got to be a star for an evening at the premiere of the movie.
“Tilly was a great candidate,” said Sarah, explaining how closely they had been working with Open Bionics for years to ensure Tilly had hands which were workable rather than just aesthetic.
“They have always had the same vision as us and wanted to create something very unique, something super cool for kids, but that didn’t hide the fact that they have a disability.
“These hands do make them stand out – but it also helps them embrace who they are”.
Sarah hopes that seeing Tilly standing on the blue carpet outside the premiere of a huge movie like Alita will be an inspiration to others of her age.
But as well as that, the experience must have been very exciting to Tilly – even though she looked like she was taking it all in her stride.
“She loved it,” said Sarah. “She was in her element.”