Back in April, we were all left moved when a teen dance troupe – then called Just Us – auditioned on Britain’s Got Talent and revealed that it was, quite literally, their last chance for 15-year-old Julia Carlile.
The teen dancer was born with scoliosis, which causes a curve of the spine, and Julia was due to undergo surgery to straighten her back later this year, but the NHS-funded op would dramatically reduce her mobility – meaning that she would no longer be able to dance.
The girls therefore wanted to win the show’s £250,000 prize fund so that Julia could travel to America and get a different kind of procedure called vertebral body tethering, which would have less of an impact on her mobility and means that she would be able to continue with her passion.
Alesha Dixon immediately pressed her Golden Buzzer for the girls, sending them straight through to the semi-finals where they eventually won a place in this year’s grand final, however, first prize ended up going to pianist Tokio Myers.
When the girls took to the stage during the semi-final – this time under the new name Merseygirls – Simon Cowell hinted that he will give Julia the money for the operation regardless of whether or not they win, and the media mogul was true to his word with Julia now revealing that Simon has funded the life-changing surgery.
Julia flew to New York yesterday and will then travel on to New Jersey where the operation will take place, speaking to the Liverpool Echo ahead of the procedure, the teen shared: “Simon came and spoke to us backstage. Just walking off stage and he said he was paying for it and I couldn’t believe it.
“[Fellow dancer] Annie came up to me and said Simon wants to speak to us. He said we did a really good performance.
“I’m beyond happy and it means we can carry on dancing together for the rest of our lives.
“He didn’t have to do it and he has changed my life. There are no word to thank him for how grateful we are. It’s just unbelievable.”
Julia’s mum, Kate, added: “It’s the first time Julia has had any kind of hope about being able to dance in the future.
“We are in a very privileged position because of Simon. We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who voted for girls and Simon and everyone who has supported them.
“The wave of support has been unbelievable.”
Speaking out previously about her impending operation, Julia explained: “I’ve had to wear a back brace since I was nine. I have this constant ache at the back of my spine. It kind of crushes your organs, too.
“If I do a certain move I might feel sharp pain, but dancing takes my mind off that. I used to always cover my back as I’ve got a hump, but the girls have helped me show everyone who I really am.”
The NHS procedure would have involved fusing Julia’s spine with metal rods and she’d have needed at least six months to recover.
The American operation will see Julia have screws fixed along a cord inside her back with just six weeks recovery time, the surgery is also reversible if it doesn’t work.