A 13-year old autistic schoolboy from Northamptonshire earned a standing ovation on the West End stage on Saturday.
Eddie Dancer, who lives in Brackley and attends LVS Oxford, a school for children with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, was nominated by the school to play the violin at Autism’s Got Talent.
The show meant taking to the stage at the Mermaid Theatre in front of an audience of 600 people.
Just 24 acts were chosen from a rigorous audition process, and Eddie stepped on stage alongside acts such as singers, guitarists, dancers and magicians from as far afield as America, Croatia, Sweden and Canada.
Eddie, accompanied on stage by his violin teacher Noriko Tsuzaku and his assistance dog Harmony, played a rendition of The New Round O on his violin.
Eddie said: “I’m really pleased to be able to represent LVS Oxford.
“The best bit of the day was watching other people perform as they have shown what people with autism can do and have encouraged me to play more.
“I already want to come back next year as I have proved to myself if I want to do something I can do it, and do it well”.
His mother Bev noted how far Eddie has come, saying: “Eddie is a lot calmer now, and can achieve so much more at home too.
“At mainstream primary school we were just getting by day to day, but now he is so much more receptive as at LVS Oxford he is far more relaxed.
“He made a small mistake on stage which in the past would have been the end of the performance for Eddie, but now he has the confidence and belief to overcome obstacles”.
Dancer met dancer at the show as Eddie was introduced to Strictly Come Dancing star Robin Windsor, friends with show organiser and autism campaigner Anna Kennedy, who was delighted to meet Eddie and was full of praise for his performance.
Robin said: “Eddie was absolutely fantastic. It is so amazing what music and dance can do for people on the autism spectrum – it can really enhance their lives”.
Eddie hopes to follow in the footsteps of a band from LVS Oxford’s sister school LVS Hassocks, in West Sussex, who enjoyed acclaim at Autism’s Got Talent last year and went on to play a succession of other events having gained a taste for fame.
Head of Centre at LVS Oxford Louisa Allison-Bergin said she hopes Eddie’s confidence-boosting performance on stage will be a source of inspiration to all his classmates.
She said: “Eddie was fantastic and we are all so proud of him.
“What he has done is something other learners at the school can draw inspiration from and aspire to knowing they can achieve whatever they set their sights on. We are also delighted to be part of such a prestigious event in the world of autism”.
Autism’s Got Talent, in its fifth year, is a celebration of ability for those with autism. With LVS Oxford’s aims of developing students to have the confidence and skills to lead happy, independent lives it was a natural fit to want Eddie to show his potential.