Dancers devastated by missing prize

Natasha Winstanley, Hollie Lee and Megan Davidson.
Natasha Winstanley, Hollie Lee and Megan Davidson.
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TEENAGE dancers today told how they have been left heartbroken after thousands of pounds of prizes promised to them after they won a national competition failed to materialise.

The youngsters, from The Dance Place school, South Shore, worked tirelessly training for a performance at Disneyland Paris.

But they said their dreams have been shattered because, six months on, the prize from the UK Festival 4 Stars competition has never been awarded.

Now Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden has tabled an Early Day Motion in Westminster expressing his “deep concern” about the situation and urging Trading Standards to investigate.

Friends Hollie Lee, 16, Natasha Winstanley, 14, and Megan Davidson, 15, known as The Woo Hoos when they dance, won their Disney prize last October and were told they would be performing this April.

Fellow dancers Connor Hardwick and Ryan Woods were equally delighted to place as runners up in the same competition.

Hollie Lee, a Highfield Humanities College pupil, said: “When we won I was so proud but it’s devastating now really. It’s embarrassing when people ask about the prize and I’m hesitant to enter other competitions now.”

Friend Connor Hardwick, 17, thought he had won tickets to Alton Towers after taking a runner up place at the competition.

He said: “We put all that effort in but have nothing for it. It wasn’t that big a prize but it’s disappointing. It was worse for the girls, it’s sad for them.”

Connor’s mum Annie Tyas, of Windermere Road, Blackpool, said: “Despite much negotiation with the organiser over five months there was no official confirmation and further details of prizes failed to materialise.

“We decided to try to contact the other prize winners to see how they had fared.

“To date we are yet to find one contact that has received anything.”

The families said they are confused to see a 2013 competition still being promoted despite the 2012 prizes not yet having been awarded. They approached Mr Marsden in the search for answers.

His EDM reads: “This House (The Commons) expresses its deep concern at reports the organisation Festival for Stars Talent Search UK Ltd failed to respond to charges that their 2012 competition left children and young people without promised prizes, contracts and appearances at prestigious venues.”

A solicitor representing Nick Pamment, the managing director of Festival 4 Stars (Talent Search UK) Ltd, said the responsibility for providing the prizes did not lie with his client and Mr Pamment was offering “consolation” prizes after taking over the competition from another company, called UK Festival 4 Stars.

The Gazette has made a number of attempts to contact UK Festival 4 Stars, but without success.

Meanwhile, the families said they would not be willing to accept the “consolation” prizes, saying they have lost faith in the competition.

Robert Gamson, Mr Pamment’s solicitor, said he was taking on distributing the promised prizes as a gesture of goodwill.

He said: “The deal was for my client company to give assistance and in return they would pick up the goodwill of the operation to enable them to host the events into the future.

“My client company realised the goodwill was under threat by the fact some winners did not receive the prizes so as a goodwill gesture began a rolling program of agreeing to gift substitute rewards.

“This has been slow because the income of the company will come from staging the events from now on.”

A spokesman for Disney said the company is investigating, adding: “Disneyland Paris nor The Walt Disney Company are in no way associated with Festival for the Stars Talent Search UK Ltd in relation to the event nor did we supply such prizes.

“We are very sorry to learn about the issues in having the prizes fulfilled by the event organiser.”

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