LET’S GET AJ IN THE FINAL!
Millions will watch Potteries-born professional AJ Pritchard bid for a place in the Strictly grand final tonight. Proud dad Adrian told LOUISE ELLIOTT how he hopes the city will make him and partner Lauren Steadman one of the fantastic four
THE proud parents of Strictly Come Dancing star AJ Pritchard are urging the public to get behind the Stoke-on-trent dancer – as he prepares to take part in the semi-final of the gruelling competition this evening.
AJ and his partner, British Paralympic athlete Lauren Steadman, right, are to perform the tango and samba for a chance to win a place in the final.
Last weekend, they finished bottom of the leaderboard, despite impressing the judges with their classic waltz – inspired by South Pacific – for Musicals Week but still got through thanks to the public.
AJ and Lauren, who was born missing her lower right arm, scored an impressive 35 points, with Bruno Tonioli saying their performance was a “return to form”. Fellow judge Craig Revel Horwood, gushed: “Ballroom really is your strength.”
Now AJ’S parents – Adrian and Debbie Pritchard – are urging the public to again show their support for their oldest son, who was born in Stoke-on-trent and grew up in Sneyd Green.
Adrian said: “This series of Strictly has been a big challenge for AJ as he has had to change
the choreography for Lauren’s disabilty. He has had to adjust his body posture and when they do the lifts he has had to develop those lifts.
“It has been very, very difficult for both of them but they have both done tremendously well.
“AJ finds Lauren absolutely incredible – the way she is very independent and copes extremely well. He is truly amazed by her and has such a lot of respect for her.”
AJ regularly returns to his hometown to see his grandparents, who still live in Sneyd Green. His dad is from Blurton and his mum grew up in Sneyd Green, although they now live in Cheshire where they run their own dance school.
Adrian and Debbie will be in the Strictly audience tonight to cheer their son on. “AJ and Lauren are so grateful for all the support they have received from the public over the last few weeks - they have had tremendous backing,” said Adrian.
“They have both worked very, very hard so it’s lovely for them to get that support. They know they are in the hands of the public and as long as they keep trying and working hard then we hope the public – and Stoke-on-trent – will continue to support them.”
HIGH HOPES: Lauren and AJ in action on the series.