Billy Elliot star Ali Rasul in the running for Pride of Hartlepool award

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A HARTLEPOOL youngster who wowed the West End stage is in the running for an award.

Ali Rasul, 12, has just returned from his glorious performances in the role of Billy Elliot at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre.

He’s back in town to the news that he is now in the running for a Pride of Hartlepool award.

Proud uncle Saleem Rasul, the legal guardian of Ali, said: “Everyone is very proud of him and he has done a really good job.”

He said he was “shocked” that Ali was now being considered for the young performer crown in the Pride of Hartlepool awards.

The nomination came from town dance school owner Val Armstrong, from the Val Armstrong Academy of Performing Arts, who said: “Ali has achieved so much. I applied to the Billy Elliot Company for an audition and after several auditions and intense training Ali was finally offered the lead role of Billy.

“He was the first one from the North East to get it.

“Ali was also a successful mini model under my direction, modelling throughout the UK, and he was also a lead dancer with Zac Healey’s Lil Diamondz who went on to win Alesha Dixon’s Street Dance Stars competition on CBBC.”

During his time in Billy Elliot, Ali received three standing ovations during his first night playing the boy who shunned a life down the mines for a ballet career.

He was the 33rd boy cast in the part, made famous by the movie of the same name, which was filmed in Easington Colliery, since the production’s 2005 West End debut.

Now, said Saleem, Ali is doing ballet, tap, gymnastics and has an audition soon for another stage role.

He also becomes the latest entrant in this year’s Pride of Hartlepool competition.

Ten categories are open for entries and they are Sporting Achievement; Community Group; Community Champion; Student of the Year; Fundraiser of the Year; Child of Courage; Local Hero; Green Champion; Emergency Services and Young Performer of the Year.

The deadline for the awards has now been extended so that people have until early April to put forward their favourites.

To enter, fill in the nomination form in the Hartlepool Mail, below, or visit www.hartlepool.mail.co.uk and complete the online entry form.