AN AWARD-WINNING wheelchair dancer is seeking a new able bodied partner.

James Ireland, 22, who was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and is paralysed from the waist down, performed at the London Paralympic Games opening ceremony in 2012.

He has danced on international stages and in competitions, but he is unable to continue with his current partner because of her college commitments.

The female dancer who replaces her does not necessarily need to have any dance experience, but will need plenty of stamina.

James is a member of the successful Thameside Wheelchair Dancing Club based in Westcliff, and has won several international and world championship wheelchair dancing medals in locations including Holland and Malta.

In 2008, he starred on Blue Peter, when he and his partner took part in the international Malta Open Dance Competition with presenter Helen Skelton.

The pair competed against 100 other dancers from 18 countries in three dances, the waltz, samba and quickstep and won first prize.

James, from Leigh, said: “It would be fantastic if someone of a similar age and with experience wanted to join me, but it is not necessary.

“Even someone who has not danced before would be OK.

“I can dance with any able bodied dancer.

“Clearly they don’t grow on trees so I’m hoping an appeal through the Echo will help.”

James, who has been wheelchair dancing since he was 12, had hoped to enter an amateur competition in Holland at Easter, but if the new dancer is not ready by then, the next competition is in July in Manchester.

With amateur status comes the possibility of getting sponsorship.

It is free to train, but the lucky lady would have to pay her own expenses to attend competitions.

Training is at St Cedd’s community centre in Westcliff.

if you are interested contact James, who volunteers with Southend Junior Phab club, on 07811 225735 or e-mail j.a.i@hot