Belfast Telegraph

Manchester attack survivor Hollie Booth in Ariana Grande-themed BGT audition

She was praised by judge Simon Cowell for her bravery.

A teenage survivor of the Manchester Arena bombing will be seen returning to the city for a Britain’s Got Talent audition on Saturday night.

Hollie Booth, 13, and her dance troupe, Rise, performed to a medley of Ariana Grande hits less than a year after the youngster was forced to start using a wheelchair after the attack which killed her aunt, Kelly Brewster.

The 11 dancers, aged between 10 and 24 years old, performed the dance with wheelchairs in support of Booth who spent weeks in hospital and had multiple operations following the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena last May which killed 22 people.

The audition was the first time she had been to an arena-like venue since being taken by her mother, Claire Booth, to the Ariana Grande concert for her birthday.

“It was an amazing, happy day that just ended so badly. We got up to leave and as we got into the foyer that’s when the bomb went off,” Claire said.

On her audition, Hollie said that it was difficult coming back to Manchester, but added: “Everybody has been absolutely supportive and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

“It feels amazing,” she said.

It’s so important not to be defined by tragedy, to be shaped by it. Amanda Holden

She was praised by Simon Cowell for her efforts at the audition, which was recorded earlier this year and will air on Saturday night.

He said: “Holly … this is difficult … to get through what you went through and come out here and turn a negative into a positive is actually quite unbelievable.

“What these people did, they’re cowards, and the fact that you can come on stage and do what you did and make such a positive statement with your friends, I’m very proud of you.

“In fact I salute you,” he added.

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Holly broke her right knee and her left foot and leg as well as suffering nerve damage meaning she cannot walk without wearing a splint.

Ms Booth said her daughter “takes my breath away every single day”.

“She’s an inspiration to me and to everyone who comes across her,” she added.

Judge Amanda Holden told her: “It’s so important not to be defined by tragedy, to be shaped by it, but never defined by it.”

The troupe sported Manchester bee t-shirts in a nod to the city’s worker-bee symbolism.

After their performance a number of the girls burst into tears before the four judges ventured backstage to congratulate them in an unprecedented move.

Saturday night’s show will also see a singing priest, a stand-up comedian who cannot speak and a pair of extraordinary acrobats who leave the judges on the edge of their seats.

Britain’s Got Talent airs at 8pm on ITV

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