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Swindon ballet star, Poppy Winsbury, has won a school scholarship with Regional Youth Ballet
LITTLE Poppy Winsbury has overcome countless hurdles in her short life to achieve overwhelming success as a dancer.
Five years ago, the 11-year-old underwent major surgery after she was born with a heart disorder.
The problems started before she was born, when her parents Lisa and Stuart of West Swindon were told their daughter would probably not survive an essential operation as a baby.
But Poppy proved doctors wrong and in 2008 she underwent the Fontan procedure, an operation to help the blood circulate in her heart in a bid to put off having to need a heart transplant until a later date.
However, the operation did not go to plan and Poppy suffered heart failure.
She then underwent two further operations, one to investigate why it went wrong in the first place and a second to redo the procedure.
But despite then having to contend with collapsed lungs, liver failure and a stress related ulcer, plus numerous trips to and from hospital, Poppy was back in her ballet tutu within weeks of the operation.
And now the unstoppable youngster, who has danced with Tanwood School for Performing Arts in Swindon since she was just two-and-a-half, has won herself a scholarship with the Regional Youth Ballet in Wales.
As well as the impressive achievement, Poppy will also be performing in all three of Tanwood’s Best of British shows at the Wyvern Theatre on November 9 and 10.
Poppy’s mum Lisa said: “Poppy started dancing when she was just two-and-a-half – her older sister danced so she came along and she took to it quite easily. She is very petite which I think helps.
“She does all sorts of dancing at Tanwood, but ballet is her thing, so we were delighted when she got her scholarship. It is something she has always wanted to do.”
Poppy dances at Tanwood three times a week, and the Regional Youth Ballet School in Wales on Saturdays and Sundays. Her hectic schedule will be even busier over the coming weeks as she rehearses for the Tanwood extravaganza, as well as a Christmas performance at her ballet school, but the youngster does not let her medical history faze her.
Lisa said: “Poppy gets tired quicker than her peers but she hasn’t let it affect her. She just works harder and deals with it, she doesn’t really think about it.
“I am very proud of her. We are over-protective of her but I don’t think we need to be, looking at her.”
Tanwood principal Pollyann Tanner was full of praise for Poppy.
She said: “Poppy is so good at ballet because she is petite and she is very neat. We are very proud of her.
“She has done so well considering she has shortness of breath. We know if something is wrong when her lips go blue, and she needs to go on a special machine. We do have to keep an eye on her but we all know what to do if anything happens.”
The Best of British Tanwood show featuring Tanwood Performing Arts, Tap Attack, Empire Theatre Company, Danzone and guest West End performers, takes place at the Wyvern on November 9 at 7.30pm and November 10 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Tickets are £10 and concessions and family tickets are available from the box office. Call 01793 524481 or visit www.wyverntheatre.