I’m all for parents doing everything they can to help their children get ahead, but selling the family home so one of the children can go to dance school for seven years seems a bit much.
Dominic Handford’s parents sell house so they can send him to top ballet school
From The Times, Simon de Bruxelles, September 9, 2008
Dominic Harford won a place at Elmhurst School for Dance
An 11-year-old ballet dancer described as a real-life Billy Elliot took up the offer of a place at Britain’s oldest dance school yesterday after his parents sold their home to pay the £22,000 a year fees.
Dominic Handford beat hundreds of other hopefuls to win a place at the prestigious Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham but, like the character in the successful film, his parents were unable to afford the fees.
Jonathan and Adele Handford decided to make the ultimate sacrifice and sell their four-bedroomed house in a Welsh mining village and move in with Mrs Handford’s mother.
Mr Handford, a lorry driver, his wife and their three other children, Yasmin, 13, Charles, 6, and Connor, 4, are now sharing two bedrooms.
Mrs Handford said: “It’s been a big upheaval. We’ve gone from a fourbed, three-storey house to two bedrooms at my mum’s. Dominic was born to be a dancer so we are all prepared to sacrifice so that he can succeed.
“Some people might think we are mad but this was too good an opportunity for Dominic to miss. It is his dream. But nobody is complaining – not even the children, who are treating it as an adventure.”
The family from Penygroes, near Swansea, put the house up for sale for £158,000 originally but because of falling prices and the credit crunch they accepted an offer of £135,000 eventually.
Mrs Handford said: “We know it is a bad time to sell but we had to. We had to lower the price to sell it.” Dominic became fascinated by ballet at the aged of 6 when he saw the cartoon Angelina Ballerina.
His teacher spotted his potential and recommended him for an audition with the Royal Ballet. He was accepted and was advised to try for Elmhurst School for Dance, the country’s oldest dance school, which trains ballet students from the age of 11.
Mr Handford said: “I know nothing about ballet; everyone here is a big rugby fan. But as soon as he was accepted his mum and I thought that’s it, he has to go. We will get him there.”
Dominic said: “I’m so excited about starting school. I’ve always loved ballet and doing it all the time is my dream. A lot of my friends were dreading their first day back in school but I can’t wait. My parents are the best in the world.”