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Croydon group Dance For Joy reach semi-finals of television contest

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CROYDON dancers brought a celebrity judge to tears as they became the first performers with Down's syndrome to reach the semi-finals of a TV talent contest.

Dance For Joy won unanimous praise on Sky One's Got To Dance with their classical performance, which was backed by Susan Boyle's rendition of I Dreamed A Dream.

A dewy-eyed Aston Merrygold – singer in pop group JLS – said: "That was truly, truly moving. I am just so impressed and thank you so much for bringing these lovely young people to our stage."

The group will now perform live at Sunday evening's semi-final, with their future in the competition dependent on a public vote.

Dance For Joy, who formed at the Allessendre Special Needs Dance School in Battersea 20 years ago, include David Simpson from New Addington, Martin Wright from Shirley, Rebecca Blackwell from Thornton Heath and Barry Bacon from Shirley.

David's mother Lorraine, 58, said she was immensely proud of her son, who used to attend Nicholas School in Purley.

"It was very emotional to watch. I was ecstatic when they got through," she told the Advertiser.

"It is really good to show that people with special needs can do things like anybody else."

"I don't know whether they'll get through to the next round or not, but I'm just so proud of all of them."

David, 36, who lives with his mother in Castle Hill Avenue, said: "It is very exciting. I have been dancing for 20 years."

But he would not reveal what the group had in store for Sunday's showdown, saying: "It's a secret."

Got To Dance, presented by Davina McCall, is currently in its fourth series.

Taking a similar formula to shows such as Britain's Got Talent and the X Factor, acts perform in front of a panel of judges comprising Pussycat Doll Kimberley Wyatt, dance star Ashley Banjo and JLS's Aston.

Following a series of semi-final shows the final ten acts will appear live on stage at Kensington Olympia on March 17 for the chance of winning a £250,000 cash prize.

Got To Dance is on Sky One at 6pm on Sunday.

Croydon group Dance For Joy reach semi-finals of television contest


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