“It’s been such an amazing journey” – Hollie Booth and RISE in Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals
Hollie Booth from Sheffield is just like any other teenage girl who loves Ariana Grande and lives to dance. But after being seriously injured in the 2017 Manchester bombing, she and her dance group performed on the Britain's Got Talent semi-finals with their wheelchair dance routine
Caught up in the Manchester Arena attack, 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: dancing.
Hollie was left with numerous broken bones and internal injuries. To help her and her dance group, the British Red Cross’ mobility aids teams in Greater Manchester and Yorkshire provided wheelchairs for her and the dance troupe, RISE, to use in their routine.
“For the last couple of years me and my dance school Dance Daze have been talking about auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent,” said 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 – 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 made it through to the semi-final stage.
“It’s been such an amazing journey,” says Hollie’s mum Claire Booth.
“But it’s a roller coaster, 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.”
People kept asking for selfies
Hollie said that taking part in the show was a unique experience.
“We’ve taken part in dance competitions before, but we’ve never been involved in anything quite like this,” Hollie said.
“We were all so excited… nervous too, but we’ve been training and practising as much as we can and we’re feeling okay.”
Claire was one of 12 proud family members and friends who supported 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.”
The tragedy didn't define her
Claire was keen that the girls’ involvement in the show would be noted for their talent and ability.
“What’s been so important for us is that it wasn’t about a ‘sob story’,” she said.
“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.
Hollie and RISE went on to raise funds for the British Red Cross to say thank you for our support. Together they raised an amazing £17,000 and presented the cheque to our team on a visit to one of our wheelchair service centres.
“I’m so proud of her and all that she and RISE have achieved,” Claire said.
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