Strictly Come Dancing's AJ Pritchard reveals heartbreaking personal story behind Stand Up To Cancer appearance

Strictly star AJ Pritchard recently revealed he would "jump at any opportunity" to help raise money for Stand Up To Cancer because of a moving personal experience with the disease - ahead of his appearance on the celebrity version of The Hunted in support of the cause. Speaking to the Mail Online­, he explained that the woman who helped him become a professional dancer had sadly died of cancer. "I would jump at any opportunity to do any work for Stand Up To Cancer. If they ask me to do anything it will always be a yes," he said. "I do have personal reasons for doing it - the lady that helped fund and allow me to become the dancer I am today passed away so suddenly from cancer."

AJ with current Strictly partner Lauren Steadman

He explained: "If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have been able to travel the world and end up doing Strictly. She allowed me to live my dreams. Not everyone can do what I do, and that's down to her… I owe her so much. So my way of giving back to her was to always be thankful and to work my [explicit] off."

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AJ went on to reveal that his friend passed away just before he was signed to Strictly Come Dancing, and tragically never learned that he had landed the job. "Literally, within two weeks of me last speaking to her, she died from cancer. So I would always take an opportunity like this with both hands," he added.

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The professional dancer will appear on Channel 4's The Hunted for Stand Up To Cancer on Tuesday evening, alongside former Strictly winner and Olympic gymnast Louis Smith. Meanwhile, he's still busy in training with current celebrity dance partner Lauren Steadman – the pair will be tackling the first-ever 'couple's choice' dance category on Saturday night's Strictly, choosing to dance a contemporary routine.

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