‘We want to be seen for who we are, not our disability’: Northampton student hails impact of Strictly Come Dancing hero Rose Ayling-Ellis

The EastEnders star and her dance partner continued to dance in silence when the music was cut part way through their routine

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 12:43 pm
Katie Flynn and her mum Clare Wood.
Katie Flynn and her mum Clare Wood.

A Northampton student has hailed the impact of an emotional Strictly Come Dancing routine that highlighted the day-to-day reality of living with deafness.

Katie Flynn, a second year Northampton College student from Kingsthorpe, is deaf in one ear and has profound learning difficulties having been born with a rare genetic disorder called Sotos syndrome.

The 19-year-old felt particularly emotional on Saturday night (November 13) as deaf Strictly contestant Rose Ayling-Ellis and professional dancer Giovanni Pernice delivered a special routine to pay respect and raise awareness for members of the deaf community.

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The EastEnders star and her dance partner continued to dance in silence when the music was cut part way through their routine.

Clare Wood, Katie’s mum, said: “It was a very powerful moment. I’d never really thought about it before but it made me realise what life must be like for Katie.

“We’re both huge Strictly fans so for them to show that dance means the world.

“It shows that just because you’re deaf it doesn’t stop you from doing anything.”

Immediately after the pair’s dance to the song Symphony by Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson, Clare tweeted a message of thanks that was spotted by researchers at BBC Radio 5 Live, who then called for her an interview the following day.

On the back of that, Clare and Katie then appeared on BBC Breakfast, giving their reaction live on TV via Zoom from their home.

Clare added: “It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind few days.

“It’s just so good to see the impact the dance has had.

“Katie feels like she’s finally being recognised for who she is as a person, rather than for her disability, which is massive for her.”

Rose Ayling-Ellis’ dance from the competition was praised by judges who scored the duo a combined total of 39 out of 40.

The dance also prompted an outpouring of support on social media and beyond.