Thirteen-year-old Hollie Booth from Sheffield is just like any other teenage girl who loves Ariana Grande and lives to dance.
Caught up in the Manchester Arena attack on 22 May last year, Hollie’s aunt Kelly Brewster was tragically killed, while Hollie herself was left seriously injured.
But she was determined to do all she could to recover and return to her passion of dancing.
Now she and her dance troupe, RISE Unbroken, are preparing to perform live on national TV – on one of the biggest talent shows in the country.
Support from the Red Cross
Hollie was left with numerous broken bones and internal injuries, and was provided with a wheelchair – as well as further chairs for the dance troupe to use in their routine – by the British Red Cross’ mobility aids teams in Greater Manchester and Yorkshire.
“For the last couple of years me and my dance school Dance Daze have been talking about auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent,” says Hollie.
“We all performed a set wheelchair dance for our Christmas show, and our choreographer had the idea to perform the same routine for the current series of the BGT.
“The extra wheelchairs we were given meant my friends could perform with me,” she says. “The Red Cross has made a massive difference to me and my life over the last year – I really wouldn’t have been able to manage without them.”
After wowing the judges with their performance and securing ‘four yeses’ at the audition stage of the competition, RISE are now preparing to take part in the live semi-finals of the show – in which acts compete for a place in Sunday’s live final.
“It’s been such an amazing journey,” says Hollie’s mum Claire Booth.
“But it’s a rollercoaster, a whirlwind of emotion. You’re watching them take part in the different stages of the competition and just waiting and hoping that they make it through.”
Support from the public
RISE are one of several acts taking part in semi-finals throughout this week, and Hollie says taking part in the show has been a unique experience.
“We’ve taken part in dance competitions before, but we’ve never been involved in anything quite like this,” says Hollie.
“We’re all so excited… nervous too, but we’ve been training and practising as much as we can and we’re feeling okay.”
Claire is one of 12 proud family members and friends who’ll be supporting RISE in the audience for the semi-final, but she says the support for the girls extends far beyond the studio.
“Everywhere we go in Sheffield, everyone’s been great – people are coming up to Hollie asking for selfies… the support for her and RISE is just amazing.”
Focusing on talent
Claire is keen that the girls’ involvement in the show is noted for their talent and ability.
“What’s been so important for us is that it wasn’t about a ‘sob story’,” she says.
“It would have been very easy for Hollie to become depressed and refuse to carry on with her life, but she wanted to get back to doing what she loved. She didn’t want what happened to define her.
“I’m so proud of her and all that she and RISE have achieved in getting this far… and we’re backing them all the way – vote RISE!”
- Support the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund
- Borrow a wheelchair from the Red Cross
- How your support helps people affected by the attack
For advice and support for those affected by the Manchester Arena attacks, visit the Manchester Attacks Support website.