Nutcracker Christmas dream comes true for young cancer survivor

11-year-old cancer survivor and aspiring ballerina, Charlie Tait, from Sevenoaks in Kent, had her dream come true when she danced with the ballerinas from The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker, to launch this year’s Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards in partnership with TK Maxx.

Charlie, who was diagnosed with a type of kidney cancer called Wilms’ tumour when she was a baby, showed just how far she has come since her diagnosis as she danced with the Sugar Plum Fairy (Yuhui Choe) and the Prince (Benjamin Ella) in rehearsal at the Royal Opera House in London, ahead of the festive show opening next week.

A previous Star Award winner herself, Charlie showcased her talent – leaping and pirouetting gracefully as she was taught a sequence from their partner routine and practised a shoulder sit lift with the Prince – to prove that despite having had cancer, she is determined to follow her dreams.

Charlie spent the first few years of her life going through treatment, including surgery to remove her kidney and chemotherapy. Aged three, she started ballet to help build her strength and overall recovery and has gone from strength to strength since. She is now an aspiring ballerina, having danced with the National Youth Ballet, as well as London Children’s Ballet and is in her third year as a junior associate at the Royal Ballet School.

The heart-warming moment was arranged to mark the launch of this year’s Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx, which celebrate the courage of children and young people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Every child who is nominated receives a unique trophy, a £50 TK Maxx gift card, a t-shirt, and a certificate signed by celebrities supporting the campaign. Their siblings also receive a certificate.

Merran, Charlie’s mum, said: “Charlie was what she called ‘nervous-cited’ about meeting the dancers, but seeing her dancing with the ballerinas was just wonderful. I remember the day Charlie was diagnosed as if it were yesterday. I’m a doctor myself and when I noticed she had a lump on her abdomen, I just knew it was cancer. Charlie never cried, even when she was having needles put in her. She has always been strong, and she always seems to be able to draw on that strength when she needs it – like when she dances on stage. We really treasure moments like these.”

Royal Ballet First Soloist Yuhui Choe, said “Charlie is super talented. She’s so gifted and to think what she’s been through already! She has so much potential and I can’t think of anybody that deserves more than her to win a Star Award.”

The Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards are run in partnership with TK Maxx, the biggest corporate supporter of Cancer Research UK’s research into children’s cancers.  Since 2004, TK Maxx has raised over £32 million for research across the UK to find new, better and kinder treatments for children and young people with cancer.

Nominations for the Star Awards are now open and Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens is calling on families and friends of young cancer patients and survivors from across the UK to nominate them in the run up to Christmas.

To nominate a child to receive a Star Award, or to find out more about Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens, visit cruk.org/kidsandteens

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