Homesick Susan brings Vincent home for New Year

WHO is the lucky Waterside woman on the arm of Strictly Come Dancing star Vincent Simone?

Susan Duddy, who hails from Altnagelvin, is now the envy of a large proportion of the female population of the United Kingdom having won the heart of the twinkle-toed smoothy, who joined her in Londonderry to see in the New Year.

She told The Sentinel this week how her boyfriend had also accompanied her to Londonderry before- and how he loves the family-orientated way of Northern Ireland people.

Mr Simone, aged 30, danced the Rumba to the backing of '2 Become 1' by The Spice Girls with former S Club 7 star Rachel Stevens to take second place in the hit BBC show's Christmas special.

But the Italian heart-throb's feet barely touched the ground over Christmas, before he was whisked away by Ms Duddy to celebrate the New Year in Londonderry.

Ms Duddy, who works as an air hostess for a private aircraft firm and lives in Guildford, Surrey, spent a brief New Year sojourn at the Beech Hill Country House Hotel in Ardmore, not very far from her ancestral home in the heart of the Waterside.

The former Lisnagelvin Primary and Clondermot High School pupil raised quite a few eyebrows when she turned up at the City Hotel with her new beau for a New Year's Eve Ball.

And whilst many of those in attendance were a little bit star struck by the visit of the talented Mr Simone, Ms Duddy has long-been accustomed to dealing with the rich and famous. Actor Matt Damon and singer Lionel Ritchie are just two of the famous celebrities she has attended as an air hostess in the past.

So the thirty-six-year old was slightly bemused at the attention being bestowed on her new boyfriend by Londonderry's revellers on New Year's Eve.

"I don't really see him in that way. He is such a character on the show but when you meet him in reality he is such a down-to-earth, normal person," Susan told the Sentinel.

"He loves it here. He's been over a couple of times since last February but I think this is the first time people really began to recognise him because of the show.

"Because he's Italian he loves the way people from Northern Ireland are very family-orientated. And it was brilliant to get back. I get really homesick when I'm away. I'm very close to my family and I have some very good friends at home. It's lovely to see everybody," she added.

Ms Duddy's mother June - an avid viewer of the Strictly Come Dancing show prior to Susan's involvement with Mr Simone - was absolutely hooked once her daughter's romance gathered pace.

"I already had been a fan of the show since it started but once this happened I had an even greater interest," she told the Sentinel.

Intriguingly, it is not the first time Susan has had a special interest in the Strictly Come Dancing line-up.

"She has had an acquaintance on the Strictly Come Dancing show before," said June.

Susan herself refused to be drawn on the matter other than to say she met Vincent through a mutual friend associated with the hit ballroom dancing phenomenon last February.

Following a flying-visit to her home-town Susan jetted back to England on Friday saying good-bye to her parents and her three siblings still resident in Londonderry - one of her three brothers now lives in Australia.