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The Family Inspired By Ellie Simmonds On Strictly

September 29, 2022

When the Davidson family sat down to watch Strictly last weekend, it was a watershed moment.

For the first time, Hailey and her daughter Skye saw someone like themselves on a prime time show.

They both have the same dwarfism as Strictly celebrity Ellie Simmonds.

And for Hailey, it was more than watching someone who has already inspired them to enjoy sport – it was representation.

Hailey, 43, said: “It makes a huge difference, because we don’t get to see ourselves very often, especially on something as big a scale as Strictly Come Dancing.

“You can see people on the Paralympics but here it’s seven o’clock on Saturday night and we’ve got Ellie representing us.

“It’s hugely important.”

Ellie Simmonds is best known as a gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer. At 13, she was the youngest British athlete at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, winning two gold medals.

In 2012 Ellie added two golds at the London Games and she won her fifth in Rio 2016. The former BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year also boasts 14 World Championship titles.

Like Paralympian Ellie, Hailey, her daughter Skye, 12, and her son Finlay, 17, were born with achondroplasia, which stunts growth in arms and legs.

And the family, from Inverkeithing in Fife, has already been influenced by her shining example.

The Davidsons joined the Dwarf Sports Association (DSA) ten years ago.

Hailey helped develop the association in Scotland and both Skye and Finlay enjoyed training and competing in a range of sports including track and field, football, basketball, hockey, boccia, curling, archery, swimming and badminton.

Taking part in its games events encouraged the children and built their confidence.

It is also where they first met Ellie.

Hailey said: “Ellie is patron of the DSA. We met her for the first time at a national games.

“She comes along and helps with scoring, organising, with the children’s warm-ups. Since then we have had a great friendship with her because she has the same dwarfism as us.

“She speaks to all the kids, and is a fantastic role model and a huge inspiration. Everything she has achieved, whether it’s being a Paralympian, five gold medals or commentating on the Commonwealth games, everything she does, she is a really positive role model to all the members within the dwarfism community.”

Skye added: “She is great, just hyper and helping out and she just brings a table with all her swimming things to give away to us, water bottles from Tokyo or a swimsuit.”

And she loved watching her on the Strictly stage.

“She was pretty good at it. She only learned for a little time and she was pretty awesome. I liked the sassy bits.”

For Hailey, it is more than that. It is helping people to understand what her life is like.

She told BBC Scotland’s The Nine programme she was glad she was paired with average height professional Nikita Kuzmin.

Hailey added: “My husband Scott is just under 6ft and within the community and the DSA we have all variations of relationships.

“Quite a few members with dwarfism with average height husbands and wives and we also have quite a few that are the same size.

“A lot of the kids with dwarfism – 80% of them – are from average height parents who can be so apprehensive and scared about what the future will hold for their child.

“It means everything when we are getting represented in real life.”

She cannot wait to see how the programme handles the partnership.

She said: “My husband and I had a first dance at our wedding – people do look, people do take the mickey but I think Ellie showcasing it in this way with Nikita and the way they are going to have to adapt is going to be interesting.

“Because we have to adapt. We can’t reach things, we can’t do certain moves. It is going to be interesting to see how they fulfil that and just fill everyone who has dwarfism with confidence.”

She also believes the show’s inclusivity will help young children.

“When you have dwarfism you can be on your own – the only one in the school, the only one in the town.

“But when you have somebody as big and vibrant on Strictly showing that maybe we have to adapt but we are still good, still able, it really does help the community to see that and for others to appreciate it.”

Swimmer Ellie addressed the height difference ahead of her first show.

She said: “Yes, I’m nervous about what it’s going to be like. Nikita and I were chatting about it yesterday and we’re going to just see.

“It might look different, and my partner’s going to be tall and we’re probably not going to be able to hold the same poses, but I’m sure it’s going to work.”

 

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