Prep pupil Max is 'Strictly' star

Junior dancers, Max Draper and Olivia King on the SCD set
Junior dancers, Max Draper and Olivia King on the SCD set

Barlborough Hall School pupil, Max Draper, took to the dancefloor with his ballroom dance partner, Olivia King, at the weekend in front of millions of television viewers. They were taking part in the opening routine in BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, which generated an emotional response from viewers as junior ballroom dancers started to dance to ‘What the World Needs Now’. As the camera panned out, more elderly couples started to waltz around the dancefloor, before they were joined by the show’s professionals and the judges.

“Our schools have been so supportive of our dancing journey so far. Thank you!” Max and Olivia tweeted after the programme on Saturday evening. “We had an amazing time, and want to thank everyone of the Strictly guys who made us feel part of the team. The professionals on Strictly are the nicest people! Was an honour to share the SCD floor with you.”

Professional dancer and former Strictly professional, Robin Windsor, tweeted: “A bit late to the party but that opening number of @bbcstrictly last night was just beautiful.” And Graham Norton said the routine brought him to tears: “The opening sequence of @bbcstrictly just [made] me cry!!” he tweeted. When Max saw Norton had written, he responded: “We knew millions watched it but Graham Norton?! Feeling almost famous now!”

Dedication, style and talentThe professionals, celebrities and junior dancers at BBC Elstree

Max and Olivia describe themselves on their Twitter page as: ‘Juvenile Ballroom & Latin dancers, loving and living DANCE’. Having reflected that he would be back to reality on Monday, Max joked: “Do I have a dressing room at school now?” to which Barlborough Hall School replied: “Definitely - we can find you one somewhere! Well done - such dedication, style and talent!”

Barlborough Hall is the Prep School for nearby Mount St Mary’s College, which is located in the north Derbyshire village of Spinkhill. The college’s origins go back to 1620 when Jesuits were teaching, albeit in secret, at Stanley Grange near Derby. Barlborough Hall itself is a Grade I listed country house built in the 1580s for Sir Francis de Rodes, an Assize Court Judge in York. It is believed it was designed by English architect Robert Smythson, the man who was also responsible for designing Hardwick Hall, Longleat House and Wollaton Hall. It opened its doors as the preparatory school to Mount St Mary’s College in May 1939 and today is a day school with 175 girls and boys. In addition to outdoor space for sports, play, woodland exploration and discovery, the Prep School has a theatre, dance studio, heated indoor swimming pool, chapel and specialist teaching rooms for art, music, science and ICT.