Lauren Steadman and AJ Prichard will stay ‘friends for life’ despite leaving Strictly Come Dancing

Lauren Steadman and AJ Prichard

Lauren Steadman and AJ Prichard - Credit: Archant

Huntingdonshire sport star Lauren Steadman says she has made a “friend for life” in Strictly Come Dancing partner AJ Pritchard.

Speaking as the pair were voted off in Saturday’s semi-final show, Lauren said the pair had become “great friends” and would be staying in touch in future.

Lauren, 25, caused a stir when she swapped her sportswear for a ballroom gown earlier this year, as she announced her appearance on the show.

Lauren grew up in Huntingdonshire, attending Great Gidding Primary School abefore moving on to Sawtry Village College, where she says she fell in love with sport.

Though she was born without a complete right arm, it didn’t stop her from succeeding. Not only did she win a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the paratriathlon, she has also competed in three Paralympics, in both swimming and parathriathlon.

However, when she received a phone call asking if she would be on the popular BBC dance show, she said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do something different.

Lauren said: “I really couldn’t believe it when I got a call from the show. I remember ringing my parents who were on holiday, and just saying to them how excited I was. However, I was very nervous about how well I would do.”

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Lauren was paired with professional dancer AJ after being announced as the 13th celebrity to be on the show, alongside TV personality Katie Piper, cricketer Graeme Swann and ex-Blue singer Lee Ryan.

She told the Hunts Post that she didn’t even consider that she would be paired with AJ, but, looking back, it was the best person she could have danced with.

She said: “Being paired with AJ was the best thing that could have happened. He’s a tough coach and has been so supportive. He’s so hard working and such a positive person to be around.”

AJ, who has been a professional dancer on the show since 2016, said that he had to adapt to Lauren’s disability, but her positivity is something that has spurred them both on.

He said: “When I was first paired with Lauren, we spoke about how we would have to adapt to make dancing easier for her. Lauren started off by saying that she didn’t want me to use her arm in the routines, but I managed to persuade her to let me use it, and as the weeks have gone on she has become so much more confident. I am so shocked at how positive Lauren is - she never gives up.”

Lauren is the first female disabled celebrity to go on the show, and she described it as honour.

She said: “It’s been so fun being on the show. I wanted to show the country that actually I don’t have a disability, it’s an ability and there’s ways around things – we just had to be a bit more imaginative.”

Making it all the way to the semi-finals, the duo said that they have become great friends and will be staying in touch.

Lauren said: “I have made a friend for life with AJ. Not only have we been dance partners but we also have become great friends. I know we will always stay in touch.”