I was so worried that my daughter’s dreams were out of reach, then my favourite TV show stepped in to help! Tracey Tyrrell, 39, Dovercourt, Essex
I said she might have trouble keeping up. I was wrong!
Nestled on the sofa with a mug of tea, a blanket on my knees, I waited for a theme tune to ring out on the telly. The first episode of Strictly Come Dancing gave me a buzz!
My husband Andrew, 37, usually did something else!
But one evening in September 2016, someone else came into the lounge.
‘You should be in bed!’ I said.
My daughter Audrey, 4, grinned, then clambered onto my knee.
‘Please, Mummy,’ she said, eyes hopeful. How could I resist?! Spellbound, she gawped at the shimmering dresses.
As she watched, I watched her – and a long-forgotten dream was sparking into life.
When I’d been pregnant, I’d dreamt of taking my daughter to ballet class.
I’d taken Audrey as a toddler, but she’d struggled to hear the teacher over the music.
She’d been born with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, and has worn hearing aids from 6 weeks old, which helped her to hear better.
But here she was, humming along to the music on the show.
So, every Saturday, her normal bedtime went to pot.
Snuggled into my side as the winter chill bit at the windows, we watched Strictly together.
Audrey loved seeing the amazing costumes, the dancers jiving and foxtrotting their way across the ballroom. It sparked something in her. ‘Daddy, dance with me!’ she ordered her father one night.
Andrew lifted her up and swooped her around, narrowly missing the Christmas tree!
Her favourite was the cha-chacha. Audrey would imitate the hip wiggles she’d seen on Strictly.
Seeing her, me and Andrew thought dance lessons were worth another go.
‘Would you like that?’ I quizzed. ‘Yes, please!’ Audrey beamed. So, last January, I dropped her off at the local dance school, explaining to the teacher why Audrey might have difficulty keeping up. I needn’t have worried! Within a year, Audrey was among the top in her class.
She’d taught herself to lip-read and body language to shimmy her way to success.
This year, her teacher Chloe, 20, suggested that Audrey should take part in a competition.
So, in April, me and Andrew followed Audrey, now 6 years old, into the competition hall.
She danced the cha-cha-cha, of course.
After all those hours spent wiggling her hips in front of Strictly, she looked fantastic in her gorgeous raspberry dress.
As the finalists were called, I was a bag of nerves.
Audrey’s chances were slim – after all, it was her first competition and Audrey was the only deaf dancer.
Then… ‘Number 59!’
She was in the top six. ‘You did it, darling!’ I squealed, hugging her. Audrey had qualified to compete in the National Blackpool Grand Finals.
Since then, she’s gone on to win four competitions. I’m so proud of her. Learning to dance is no mean feat but, for our girl, it’s been twice as hard. But she’s proof you can achieve anything that you set your mind to. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that my girl would be shimmying across a ballroom in Blackpool!