LOVE ISLAND hunk Niall Aslam has spoken movingly about how coming into the public eye has helped him open up about living with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Niall hopes his appearance in the high energy production of the popular panto, Aladdin, will also help inspire others with the condition to reach for their dreams.
He spoke out ahead of a special trip to Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham to celebrate his starring role as the Genie of the Lamp at the Stiwt Theatre in nearby Rhos.
He will be joined at the busy shopping hub on Sunday December 1 from 11 am to 12.30 pm by other members of the cast from the festive production that is currently in rehearsal at the theatre in Broad Street.
There with the reality TV star, who took part in the hugely popular ITV2 series in 2018, will be Greatest Hits Radio presenter Claire Simmo as Slave of the Ring and new talent Christopher Twyford who is taking the role as Aladdin.
Niall made a shock exit from the Love Island villa, revealing days later that it was due to his acceptance that he had Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, where people see, hear and feel the world differently from others and can have difficulty understanding and processing language.
Until that point, only close family members were aware of his condition but Niall said his time in the villa had made him realise he could finally be honest with himself and encourage others with the condition to be accepting of it too.
Niall, 24, of Coventry, said: “Growing up was really difficult for me and I often felt out of place. I felt that people didn’t really understand the true me but I never wanted to talk about Asperger’s because I didn’t want to be labelled.
“Since coming into the public eye, it has felt really positive to be honest and accept who I am and I hope that by sharing it, it will help other people feeling the same.
“I want other people with Asperger’s to realise that it doesn’t need to hold you back. It is part of who you are and it mustn’t stop you from doing the things you want to achieve in life.”
Niall added: “I am really looking forward to being on stage at the Stwit Theatre and rehearsals are going brilliantly.
“The producers have created this terrific family-friendly, festive panto extravaganza which is true to the original story but with a bit of a modern twist, helping us all to put our own stamp on it, performance-wise.
“It’s great for me and the cast to be invited down to Eagles Meadow to meet shoppers and tell them all about it.
“I hope we potentially meet some of our upcoming audience when we visit. It will give me a chance to share with them a bit of a flavour of the show, without spoiling it too much!”
Oana Mocanasu, Marketing Manager for Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre said the whole Eagles Meadow team was excited to welcome the Aladdin cast who will performing at the Stwit Theatre together from Saturday December 7 to Sunday December 31.
A relaxed performance will take place on Thursday December 19 at 6.30 pm, specifically designed for people who would prefer a more relaxed environment, such as people with autism, sensory or communication issues or a learning disability.
Oana said: “I can’t help but think Niall and his fellow performers will be a big draw and we are thrilled they are making the time to come and meet our shoppers.
“We have some great, free, festive, fun at Eagles Meadow over the Christmas period and having the Aladdin cast come to visit is really going to kick everything off very nicely.
“Father Christmas will be with us in his grotto on various dates ahead of the big day and there will also be a charity gift wrapping service taking place.
“This Christmas, we are using the various activities to raise money for local Wrexham charity Dynamic, which helps children and young people with disabilities and their families.
“We linked up with the charity in the summer to raise money during our really successful Passport to Africa events and this seemed the ideal opportunity to give them another boost.”
Father Christmas will be in his grotto on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 December and then from Saturday December 14 up to and including Monday December 23, each day from 10 am to 4 pm. There will also be Christmas performers on various dates and a free charity gift wrapping service, in aid of Dynamic, from Saturday December 14 to Tuesday December 24.
For more information on the free festive fun at Eagles Meadow, go to http://www.eagles-meadow.co.uk/whats-on/events.html
For more information on Aladdin, go to http://www.stiwt.com/cy/whats-on/aladdin