Coronation Street and Eastenders star’s joy at daughter’s A level success after tragedy

Michelle Collins has told how daughter Maia overcame major surgery and the tragic death of her father to achieve three A grades at A level

Last November it seemed unlikely the 18-year-old would be going back to school or taking any exams at all.

But today brave Maia Tassalini-Collins was at her school, Channing, in Highgate, with mum Michelle celebrating achieving three As and will take up her place to read History at Bristol University in September.

Michelle’s eyes filled with tears as she said: “I am so proud of her. She is amazing. At the beginning of the school year we were unsure if she would make it back to school at all. It was awful. She was in shock and felt overwhelmed. But now she has achieved this.”

Michelle, 53, told how last September, as Maia was starting her final A level year, she was rushed to A&E after being struck by crippling stomach pains.

The actress flew home from filming in Guadalupe and Maia underwent emergency surgery to have her gallbladder removed at the Whittington Hospital, in Highgate.

Complications meant she had to undergo two further operations and was in hospital for three weeks.

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It was as she lay in her hospital bed that Maia received the devastating news that her father Fabrizio Tassalini was dying of liver cancer at his home in Melbourne, Australia.

She had to wait five days for the all-clear to fly to Australia just in time to see him before he passed away on October 31.

Maia said: “I got to spend a week with my Dad before he died. I stayed on afterwards to be with my brother and sister and for his funeral. We then went to Italy for another ceremony with his Italian family.”

It was around this time that mother and daughter also received further tragic news that Michelle’s best friend and Maia’s godfather Paul Cottingham had also died of cancer.

When she returned to England in November with the school term well underway, Maia, a star pupil who had achieved excellent AS level results, did not feel able to return to school. “I felt overwhelmed. I had missed two months of school and didn’t want to go back. I wanted to take a year off.” she said.

But Michelle said: “I felt she was still shell shocked and wasn’t in the right frame of mind to make such a major decision. The school were amazing and said she could try coming back day-to-day to see how she felt, with no pressure.

“Teachers gave her one-to-one attention to help her catch up and were so supportive.”

Maia, who started at Channing’s junior school, Fairseat, at the age of four, said: “I was going to pull out of Channing but my teachers and Mum all had more faith in me than I did.

“I didn’t expect to do so well. I am so happy to have got my results now and to know what I am doing.”

After spending July in Croatia celebrating the end of exams with schoolfriends, Maia will now go on holiday with mum Michelle to Ibiza, before starting at Bristol University in September.

“It has been so uncertain. I filled in my UCAS form from my hospital bed when my teacher visited me. It’s amazing to be going to Bristol now.”

Michelle, who stopped working and pulled out of jobs to support Maia through the last year, said: “It has been really really hard but Maia has shown what you can achieve if you push yourself. I am so proud.”

Headmistress Barbara Elliott said today: ‘Maia has been with us since the age of four. We are very proud of her.”

She was one of many girls at Channing celebrating exam success.

The school reported 40 per cent of girls achieveing A to A* grades with a 93.1pc A*-C pass rate.

Mrs Elliott said: “I am delighted to announce yet another excellent set of A level results achieved by Channing girls, which confirms the school’s position as a centre of academic excellence.

The headmistress added: “Many girls from this year group have been with us since the age of four and it has been a real privilege to watch them develop into the academically successful, confident and independent young women they are today.”

Amanda Cullen, Lucy Randolph, Iona Hill, Katie Leach and Anya Hutchison, pictured, all celebrated A* and A grades,

Anya and Chloe will take up places at Oxford University to read English Literature and Classics while Katie will read Natural Science at Cambridge.