WHEN little Una Grace takes to the stage today she will carry in her the legacy of another dancer with whom she shared a special bond.
Ellaline Vincent was just 15 when she lost her battle with cancer in 2007.
She was a gifted ballet dancer who trained with the Miss Diane Guliford School of Dance. But a love of dancing and the same middle name ‘Grace’, were not the only things shared by these girls, whose families are close friends.
Both underwent heart surgery at Southampton Hospital, remarkably sharing the same date, surgeon and hospital bed, with Una undergoing an operation to treat undiagnosed heart disease a year to the date after Ellaline was operated on for a rare heart tumour.
Despite her own fight with cancer, Ellaline came to six-week-old Una’s bedside to support her and her family, who still treasure a photo of the teenager holding baby Una – both showing off their brave heart scars.
Sadly, hopes of Ellaline making a full recovery were dashed when she was found to have an inoperable brain tumour. But the talented dancer, singer and actress showed incredible courage to the end – even taking part in a show at the Lighthouse to raise money for Poole Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit two weeks before her death.
Now, aged seven, it is Una’s turn to dance. Today she and little sister Lilly, five, will be in their first show, fittingly called Sweet Dancer – with Ellaline’s Mother Jo Hart looking on from the audience.
Una’s mum Eloise Flinter, who also trained with Diane Guliford years earlier, said it was all thanks to Ellaline.
She said: “Una dances ballet, modern, tap and musical theatre. None of this would be possible without Una being the chosen sponsored child dancer by Ellaline’s Memorial Fund.
“This is a beautiful legacy for Ellaline. It is a magical, unique bond between the girls, and we all believe Ellaline lives on so strongly in Una Grace.”
The Vivian Theatre School production of Sweet Dancer is at the Layard Theatre, Wimborne, today at 2pm and 6pm. Ailsa Vivian, the school principal and Una’s teacher, was herself, like Ellaline, trained by Diane Guliford. Diane, now in her 80s, will also be a special guest for the first show.