A FORMER Portadown College showbiz hopeful and his wheelchair-user partner have wowed millions of TV viewers with their brilliant dancing performance on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.
Gary Lyness, who attended PC at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, and Paula Moulton from Manchester were given an emphatic ‘YES’ from all four judges on Saturday night - Simon Cowell, Alesha Dixon, David Walliams and Amanda Holden.
Simon even jokingly suggested that Paula was the better dancer as she whirled her wheelchair in time with the all-action Gary in a unique routine that had rhythm, style and was described as “moving and inspirational” by the garrulous quartet of judges.
Gary and Paula moved to the strains of the Alicia Keyes’ number ‘Empire State of Mind’ - they call themselves ‘Strictly Wheels’ - and received a rapturous ovation from the audience and from presenters Ant and Dec.
Said Gary, “It was magical. It means so much to us, especially to Paula, who is a former social worker but now uses a wheelchair since she contracted MRSA after being admitted to hospital to be treated for another condition.”
Born and brought up in Lurgan, Gary attended Portadown College, “because I wanted to study Spanish and Lurgan College didn’t offer it - anyway, my dad was a Portadown man.”
He started off his stage career with the Gateway Theatre in Portadown, in the pantomime ‘Aladdin’ and the play ‘Stop It Nurse’ and that gave him a real taste for performing, which he combines with his “real job” as a Human Resources Manager with a digital marketing firm in Manchester where he now lives.
After Portadown College, he spent some time in EuroDisney in guest relations, was later a redcoat in Butlin’s, and had a cabaret group in Eastbourne and Llandudno, and in which he danced, having been mostly self taught.
He met Paula 10 years ago and they started dancing together two years ago under the expertise of their trainer Ray Bulpitt. They are current UK Amateur Champions in Ballroom and Latin, and won gold for GB twice in the Dutch Open Amateur Latin.
“We’re over the moon at getting four thumbs-up reactions from the BGT judges,” said Gary. “Now, we’re hoping to make the semi-finals and who knows, the final.
“The ultimate reward is the Royal Variety Show, but maybe that’s too much to hope for. Anyway, the exposure and initial success on BGT are a great boost for us, and we’ll keep trying. It has given us a tremendous buzz.”