Dancing queen Maddie Clarkson is dreaming of life on the West End stage after landing the Grab 2018 title, the Ribble Valley’s inter-schools talent contest, writes Tony Dewhurst.
And it proved to be a double celebration for Bowland High School as 16-year-old singer Ella Lancaster was crowned Grab runner-up.
The modest 12-year-old, who started ballet dancing as a child, said: “It was such a surprise to win Grab. I wasn’t very confident and a bit nervous before the final. I thought Ella would win it because she is such an amazing singer. It was a real eye opener to see the talent on show, but to be the champion has made me so happy.”
Maddie, who picked up the £400 first prize, added: “It was a busy couple of days because a few hours later I was on the train to London to attend a dance class and only returned on Sunday, but the excitement of winning Grab left me with a big smile on my face all weekend.
“My brother Leighton plays for Liverpool (Under-16s) and when he started out as a junior footballer my great Grandad paid for me to go to dance classes and that’s how it all began for me.
“One day I’d love to be on stage in London as a back up dancer to a major artist and maybe work as a choreographer. But my big ambition is to dance in Los Angeles – that would be incredibly special.”
Grab judge Lloyd Gordon, who has worked alongside Mel B and Quincy Jones, said: “I have played with Tina Turner, Jamelia and Mis-Teeq, and seen many professional dancers as part of their acts, but, like them, Maddie absolutely nailed her performance and it was incredible to watch.”
Maddie’s teacher at Bowland, Andrea Yates, said: “Maddie may only be in Year 8, but her talent and stage presence is extraordinary. She delivers her performance with such attitude and style, yet at school she is a down to earth, hard working pupil. We were thrilled to see a dancer taking top spot in Grab and it was no surprise that Maddie wowed the crowds.”
Miss Yates also praised Ella’s sparkling act in front of a sell out audience at the Grand Theatre, Clitheroe.
“Her breathtaking performance of I Will Always Love You, sung in Spanish, showcased her stunning voice and left everybody watching with goose-bumps. Bowland High has a long tradition for excellent dance and music talent and we are so proud of both of them.”
Singer Tilly Clapham from St Augustine’s at Billington, landed third spot with magician Jasper Cherry, from Ribblesdale High School, also on the Grab honours board, in fourth.
Steven Lancaster, the Grand’s director, said: “Grab has this incredible ability to surprise and leave the audience mesmerised. Year after year we see something special and Grab 2018 exceeded our expectations.
“The talent, confidence and commitment of these young people is truly inspiring and once again the spirit of Grab has achieved great things.”
The audience also saw a clip of a documentary film, showing how the Grand’s Solomon Project charity is saving lives in Africa.
“Grab raises vital funds for the Solomon Project and helps feeds thousands of children every day in Africa,” added Steve.
Steered by the Grand’s High School forum members, with support from the venue and school’s staff, Grab 2018 will see charities Milly’s Smiles, RSPCA and the Solomon Project, all benefit from money raised by the event.
Grab was also kindly supported by CCLA (Good Investment) and Ella Shaw’s Academy of Arts.
All photos by Matty Hall.