From children’s Christmas shows and ushering at the Hot Ice Show, Matthew Grimstread now stars in one of the world’s top skating companies.
Matt, 28, grew up in South Shore and spent his childhood learning to skate at the Pleasure Beach Arena.
But for the past 11 years, he has been travelling the world as a Disney On Ice cast member, recreating children’s favourite characters from more than 18 beloved stories in thrilling shows.
This week, he returns to the North West as the 100 Years Of Magic tour comes to Manchester Arena from Wednesday to Saturday – bringing to life more than 60 characters from Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck through to a host of perfect princesses.
“I’m so excited to come to Manchester,” the former Palatine High School pupil said. “I remember seeing this show when I was 15 in Manchester, as I was a skater in the children’s ice show at Blackpool.
“Now I’m performing in the very same show. The performance director I’m with now, Corey Obst, was the first person I met out of the whole company, and now I’m working with him. As a football fan, I’d say he’s the Alex Ferguson of performance directors.”
Matt joined Disney On Ice in 2004 aged 18, spending six years in the States, had a year out with another show, and then joined the 100 Years Of Magic show four years ago.
The annual tours run for between seven and nine months, with the chance to take part in additional trips – which for Matt included South Africa last year.
But Blackpool is still home, and he comes back to stay with mum and dad Christine and Richard between contracts.
“When I joined at 18, I was ready to see the world,” he said. “When I used to do the Christmas ice show, I loved it so much; getting the chance to perform in front of everyone. And I wanted more than just that one week.
“I wanted to see the world, and my friends and coach were saying to do it while I was young.
“Working as an usher for the Hot Ice Show was a great opportunity and was such an inspiration to learn to skate.
“In between contracts, I get to come home to Blackpool, sit on the couch with my cat and watch football, and hang out with my friends and brother Daniel.
“Blackpool is and always will be home.”