David Toole

I was born with a condition called Sacral Agenesis, which means that when I was in the womb the lower part of my spine didn’t develop properly. I was born with legs which were of no use because they sort of crossed underneath me and when I was 18 months old, my parents decided to get them amputated. I studied at the John Jamieson School meant for children with disabilities and that’s where I first performed. We were performing at the old Leeds Playhouse when the protagonist broke his leg and since I was the understudy, I was asked to step in. “My voice was breaking and they would do anything to stop people having to hear me sing the way I did in that rehearsal.”

I went to Park Lane College and I wanted to become either a vet or a stuntman, but that was not possible given my stature. I was stuck in a dead end job for 9 years. I met someone who gave me a leaflet for a workshop for disabled dancers and made me promise that I’d go. I wasn’t going to go, but my friend me and I did. I was dancing to the beat of music in an hour.

“Have you ever had that moment where you think, ‘this is it’, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” I took part in the workshop and performed at the end of the week at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. The people of the workshop were going to set up a theatre and dance company and asked me to join. I left my job and enrolled on a course at Laban School. I did not quit my job initially, I took some time off to see how things were going and later called one day and quit. I decided that I wasn’t going to look back no matter what happened. I discovered my purpose in life, and became a dancer with no legs. People are bewildered when I tell them that I’m a dancer. I always thought that dancers were beautiful people and not someone like me. I don’t care about what people think about me. I’m a dancer and that’s all that matters to me now.

I was asked to take part in the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games and was sworn to secrecy. Nobody knew that I was going to be the focal point of the ceremony. The journey has not been easy. “I’ll tell you what though. Even when I have bad days, I think,’ look at what I get to do every day now.’ It beats typing postcodes all day.”