West Norfolk youngster chosen to play Billy Elliot in West End
NICK and Karen Watson were shocked to discover their baby Aaron had a hole in his heart when he was born 12 years ago.
Little did they know more than a decade later he would dance his way on to the West End stage as Billy Elliot, delighting audiences from around the globe.
Now the Terrington St Clement boy wants to show his gratitude to the doctors and nurses and will donate his first pay cheque to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
“I had a heart operation when I was younger”, he said. “I thought because of how much they’ve done for me I would give them some money. I am going to give it very shortly.
“I was really excited to think that I was going to be paid, but I will probably save most of it.”
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The Springwood High School pupil was selected to play Billy Elliot in September and has undergone a gruelling training regime in London. He took to the stage for the first time on June 10.
“It was amazing doing the first performance”, he said. “I was really nervous before I went on, but when I got into it, it was so fun. The nerves all went and I got on with it.
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“When everybody is clapping at the end it’s a really good feeling, because you feel like you have achieved something at the end.”
“When I first went away it was really hard, but when you’ve been away for a while you start to get used to it. I’ve started to get more independent. It was really weird coming back for the first time in a while. It was weird being back to a quiet place again.”
Aaron’s mother Karen said they had been shocked to discover their son had a hole in his heart when he was born.
“It was awful - I definitely didn’t think he could do something like this. I wanted to wrap him in cotton wool. He just kept going for regular check-ups and I was told to treat him as normal.
“He wanted to give his first set of wages to Great Ormond Street Hospital. He wanted to show the other children what could be done.”
“They think it is wonderful what he has gone on to do.”
“It was very surreal seeing him on the stage. You know that’s your son up there but you still can’t take it in. He was not Aaron, he was being Billy. He spoke in a Geordie accent. On his first night he got three standing ovations - I just thought ‘Wow - that’s my son’.”
Aaron started dancing when he was seven.
“I just enjoy it and it makes me feel refreshed. It is really fun”, he said.
He is hoping to play the part for another 18 months.
“It all depends on how much you grow and if your voice breaks”, he said. “I can’t be over five foot as I would be nearly as tall as some of the other actors and Billy needs to look like he is 12”, he said.