Rose Ayling-Ellis hopes Strictly win changes attitudes towards deaf

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The EastEnders actress, 27, told BBC Breakfast yesterday: “It is so lovely because I didn’t have that when I was growing up. I didn’t have anyone to look up to. But also it is important to inspire hearing people to think about what they are doing and to change their perception, so when a deaf person comes for a job interview they don’t have to panic or freak out.

“They can be like, ‘They are just deaf, that’s all’ and make it accessible, like how Strictly did.”

Her professional dance partner Giovanni Pernice, 31, who joined the show in 2015 but had not won it until Saturday, revealed he had taken his Glitterball trophy to bed with him.

He also said he was “beyond proud” to have danced with Rose. They defeated Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite and his dance partner Johannes Radebe ‑ the first male pairing in the show.

Giovanni said: “Obviously it is nice to win the show but I think we managed to put a statement ‑ very important for Rose, very important for the deaf community. Every week we would go there, we would smash our dance and we just proved everything is possible.

“We all should start to push ourselves to include the deaf community and not just the deaf community ‑ anything else. If I did it for 13 weeks, everybody can.” 

Following their win, Rose was pictured sharing an emotional embrace with her mother. Rose said: “When I won it I was so shocked I couldn’t speak. Everyone came up to me and said, ‘Well done,’ and when my mum hugged me I just burst into tears. I just couldn’t stop crying.

“I was proper sobbing and I think it is because, at primary school and nursery school ‑ it goes way, way, way back ‑ where my education was difficult, and my mum had to fight a lot to make it accessible for my education right from the start. So I had that right from the beginning.

“Everything I do was constantly fighting, constantly a battle, to get what I needed. We just didn’t expect it would end up with me on Strictly Come Dancing and end up with me winning it. I can’t word how much that means because we have come far.”

Rose will next embark on the Strictly live tour with Giovanni before returning to EastEnders.

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