He may be known as TV’s Mr Nasty, but Simon Cowell showed a softer side when he broke down in tears at being reunited with a young dancer whose spinal surgery he paid for.
Britain’s Got Talent fans may remember MerseyGirls, a group of friends who loved to dance but felt their performance days were numbered as one of them, Julia Carlile, had scoliosis and was facing never being able to dance again.
They entered the TV talent contest in the hope of using the prize money to pay for life-changing surgery for Carlile, but judge Cowell, who was touched by the story, told them not to worry about winning as he would fund the op in the US out of his own pocket.
Carlile’s £175,000 surgery was completed two years ago and has completely turned her life around - so naturally, she and her friends wanted to return to the stage to show Cowell the difference he had made.
MerseyGirls performed at Wembley Arena during the weekend’s auditions for the next series of Britain’s Got Talent, where the 17-year-old backflipped across the stage and left Cowell barely able to speak.
According to The Sun, he managed just a few words before breaking down in tears and retreating to the side of the stage to compose himself.
He told the girls: “All I want to talk about is one person’s strength and, beyond that, the friendship and support you all have, which we saw the first time we met you.
“To see you able to come back tonight...it just means everything.”
Carlile replied: “I thought that now I would be at home not dancing for the rest of my life — but here I am backflipping with my best friends.
“I couldn’t walk two years ago and now I am here.
“Simon, thank you so much. I don’t think I have ever been so happy as I am right now.”
Judge Alesha Dixon chimed in: “That just made my heart soar. Simon, I love you, I love what you’ve done for her.”