Soap star Nikki Sanderson dazzles fans at Ankerside Shopping Centre

Soap star Nikki Sanderson dazzled fans at Ankerside Shopping Centre, as shoppers queued around the block for the chance to meet her.

The Hollyoaks and Coronation Street actress was at the new O2 store, which opened its doors to customers today, to meet fans and sign autographs.

Among the first in the queue to meet Nikki, who plays Maxine Minniver in the drama, were 16-year-old  Wilnecote High School pupils Hannah Maskell and her friend Ellie  Lainchbury.”We’ve been here since 11am, we’re big fans,” said Hannah, from Tamworth. “It’s been really good to meet her,  she was really lovely.”

Also queuing with them were fellow Wilnecote High pupils Lucy Kinson, Stephen Gibson and Daniel Kearney, all aged 13 and from Tamworth. After having his photo taken, Stephen said: “Nikki is my favourite character in the show, I am a big fan of of Hollyoaks, and I am so excited that I have got to meet her.”

It was a family occasion for Claire and Adam Essex from Tamworth, who brought along children Lilly, nine, and eight-year-old Lewis to meet Nikki and get her autograph.  “We are big fans of the soap and sit down to watch it together every evening, if we miss anything then we watch the catch-up,” said Adam,  project manager with Carillion.

Most fans pulled out their smart phones to get a snap of themselves with the actress, former model and TV presenter, and many asked her to autograph their phones as well.

Among those bringing gifts for Nikki was nine-year-old Jessie Davis, who called into Ankerside’s Card Factory with mum Lisa to pick up a teddy bear, which she proudly handed to Nikki before having a photo with her.  “We love watching Hollyoaks and Jessie is a massive fan, she knows everything about it. I would love to take her on  tour of the set but haven’t been able to arrange it.” said Lisa, from Tamworth.

One of the oldest fans to queue up to meet Nikki was 72-year-old retired builder Fred Cover from Tamworth.  “My wife Dorothy won’t believe this when she sees it, “said Fred. “We watch Hollyoaks but to be honest I preferred her in Corrie, when she played Candice Stowe.”

For Nikki, the trip to Tamworth from the Hollyoaks studios in Liverpool was a fun day out. “It’s been lovely meeting everyone today, especially the children. it’s great that the show has so many fans,” said Nikki.

“Everybody has been so friendly and made me feel very welcome.  The gifts have been lovely and people have been making comments about the show, such as Maxine should leave Patrick, her on-screen boyfriend, because of the way he treats her. ”

Ankerside Shopping Centre deputy manager Jeff Wigley said: “I have never seen so many queuing up for a store opening, we probably had over 100 people waiting to meet Nikki, who has been so lovely to everybody. It has been really busy at Ankerside today.  This is a return to the centre for O2 and means we have a full range of mobile phone stores and services for customers.”

Helping Nikki to launch the store were stilt walkers Natalie Goode and Kirsty Loewy, along with face painter Samantha Harbed and the store’s in house team of gurus, helping customers with technical problems.

O2 store manager Deepa Budhiraja, who will be in charge of a six strong team, said: “It is amazing to see how many people have turned up for this event, Nikki obviously has a lot of fans in Tamworth, and I have been excited to meet her as well.

“I am so pleased that O2 is back in Tamworth. The reaction from local people has been very positive, and I hope they continue to be our customers.”

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