Hollie was caught up in the Manchester Arena bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017, and her mum Claire speaks incredibly movingly on BGT about the day that she, her daughter and Hollie’s aunt Kelly Brewster went to see Ariana Grande.
“I bought Hollie tickets for her birthday as a surprise,” explains Claire on ITV. “We’d seen Ariana Grande before and she was really good. Me, Hollie and Hollie’s aunt Kelly were going – it was just an amazing, happy day that just ended so badly.
“We’d just got up to leave and as we got into the foyer that’s when the bomb went off,” Claire adds, explaining how it took 23 hours to find out that Kelly had died at the scene. She was one of the 22 people who were killed in the attack.
Hollie, meanwhile, broke her right knee and left foot, and has been left with nerve damage. “She can’t walk on her left leg without wearing a splint,” says Claire. “She’s had 11 operations so far. She’s got more to come and she fights every single day and she takes my breath away every single time.”
She performs in a wheelchair, and in a mark of solidarity all members of the group incorporate wheelchairs into their routine, set to a medley of Ariana Grande songs.
Even before Hollie and RISE begin their audition in Manchester, Hollie is seen fighting back tears as she says that it was “always difficult” coming back to the city. She also said adds that being on stage at the theatre was the first time since the attack that she had been in a venue similar to an arena.
“A couple of days after it happened I was saying, ‘When can I go back to dancing?’” she says. “I was even saying it to my doctors and they didn’t know if I could or when I’d come back.”
Meanwhile her mum says that it “means so much” seeing the smile on her daughter’s face when she’s dancing. “She’s an inspiration to me and to everyone that comes across her.”