Chloe and Liam Trust continues to help dreams come true for two hopeful teenagers
Two teenagers are being given a helping hand to achieve their dreams in the world of performance and sport - thanks to a South Tyneside charity.
Lee Dalton from Marsden is currently in training at BodyWorks Performing Arts College in Cambridge, while fencer Josh Waddell from Sunderland is getting set to start his bid for a place in the 2020 Paralympics.
Both are being supported in their chosen paths by the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust.
The charity was launched last year as a lasting legacy to South Shields couple Chloe Rutherford, 17 and Liam Curry, 19, who were killed in the Manchester Arena terror attack, last May.
Chloe was a talented performer, while Liam was a gifted cricketer.
Lee, 19, who was a pupil at Harton Academy alongside Chloe, who was a close friend, says the support of the Trust has helped ease the financial pressure on himself and his mum, meaning he can focus more on his studies.
The teenager, who was trained at the Suzanne Stewart Art of Dance and Fitness, said: “I was really good friends with Chloe, so I knew all about the Trust and followed its progress.
“I applied and when I received the phone call to say the Trust could help me, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.
“I’m currently in my second year of a level six diploma in Musical Theatre and Dance.
“It is my dream to perform on the West End, but I was really struggling financially.
“Having support from the Trust has relieved so much financial pressure - it is just amazing.
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“It means I can focus more now on my studies, as last year I was working all the time to help fund my course.
“It honestly feels like a miracle and I am so grateful beyond belief.
“What has happened is so sad, but the strength shown by their parents to create something as amazing as the Trust is remarkable, and I am so proud to now be part of it.”
Meanwhile, Josh, 15, has recently returned from competing in Italy as part of the Great Britain Paralympic Team, which was placed fifth in épée and sixth in foil.
It was the first time Team GB have put forward an épée team - where competitors can aim at their opponent’s whole body - to compete in a major international competition.
Josh is currently the world under-17s number one in épée, and hopes to build on his success as he bids to be part of the 2020 Paralympic team which will compete in Tokyo.
The teenager, who first started fencing after being introduced to the sport at a sports disability day, was supported by the Chloe and Liam Trust to help him compete in Italy and in Warsaw.
He attends Laszlo’s Fencing in Durham.
His mum Caroline said: “The Trust has helped support Josh at his past two competitions, which is absolutely amazing.
“Josh competing does cost a lot of money, as he needs at least one of us to go with him. I wasn’t sure if it would be something they would support Josh with when I applied, but they fully got behind him.
“When they called us to let us know they would like to help, it was amazing. I was over the moon for the way they are supporting Josh.”
To date the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust has paid out almost £100,000 in bursaries to help aspiring young performers and sportspeople to follow their dreams.
For details on the Chloe and Liam Trust visit the charity’s page on Facebook.