ROYAL Marine Cassidy Little is living out his dream to dance by taking part in a charity edition of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
And the 33-year-old was told of the news of his place on the show with a dazzling dance surprise at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.
Lance Corporal Little is a former marine medic who lost his right leg below the knee during a tour of Afghanistan in the summer of 2011.
It happened when an improvised explosive device was triggered, killing three servicemen and wounding five others – including Cassidy.
But despite his own horrific injuries, the Royal Marine selflessly attempted to tend to his colleagues on the ground after the attack.
Now in recognition of his efforts to make other people’s lives better, Cassidy has been invited to take part in the hit TV show which has been opened up to public contestants for the first time.
Cassidy said: ‘I trained as a dancer before I joined the Royal Navy but I didn’t train as a one-legged dancer.
‘It’s got its own challenges but you figure it out and push through it.
‘My dance partner is so patient.’
After the Afghan blast, Cassidy spent a week in an induced coma followed by two months in hospital.
He then undertook extensive rehabilitation with his fellow injured marines, who say it was Cassidy’s optimism and sense of humour that helped them through the difficult times.
Major Steve McCulley, who spent more than two years in rehabilitation with Cassidy, said: ‘Every single serious injured serviceperson goes through very dark periods.
‘Were it not for Cassidy, those dark periods would have been far longer and far harder for many to deal with – me included.’
It was not only Cassidy’s upbeat attitude that helped his colleagues but his dancing skills, too.
The lance corporal, who has a degree in music and dance, taught one of his fellow marines how to dance the waltz while out in Afghanistan so he could impress his fiancée at the first dance on their wedding night.
Cassidy applied, alongside thousands of others, to take part in the four-part series of The People’s Strictly for Comic Relief.
The six chosen contestants have each been paired with a professional dancer from the BBC show – in Cassidy’s case, Natalie Lowe – and are currently training hard as they prepare to perform for the nation.
The next episode airs on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC One.
Marines musicians help spring the Strictly dancing surprise
STANDING in the vast empty arena next to HMS Victory, Lance Corporal Little had no idea just how many eyes were upon him.
After applying to take part in the special edition of the Strictly Come Dancing show, he was lured to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard under the pretence of filming a television interview.
But mid-way through the filming, the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth interrupted the interview and marched into the arena playing the Strictly theme tune.
Still blissfully unaware of the surprise that was in store, Cassidy was taken by the arms by two dancers and led into the middle of the arena where he was met by professional dancer Brendan Cole and former contestant and Girls Aloud member Kimberley Walsh, who revealed his place on the show.
The scene was played out on BBC One last night as part of the introduction to the charity edition of the programme.
Cassidy said: ‘I should have picked up what was going on – the Royal Marines taught me to pick up what is abnormal about a situation.
‘But this doesn’t happen every day.’
The surprise did not end there for Cassidy as it was then revealed his family, who live in Canada, had all flown over to meet him and were waiting on board HMS Victory.