IT may have been the hardest thing Matthew Wolfenden has ever had to do but Dancing On Ice is an experience he wouldn’t change.
He received high praise indeed from the judges including Katarina Witt who said: “I cannot imagine what kind of world class skater you would have become if you had skated from a little boy.”
The 30-year-old actor who used to live in Norwood Green and was taught at Brighouse High School was the first contestant this series to receive the full 30 points after performing with partner Nina Ulavona to Singing in the Rain.
He received 10 points from Katarina, Robin Cousins and Louie Spence.
He said: “I cannot believe it, I’m lost for words. That was the best I have ever performed it.”
His second performance to Don’t Stop Me Now, his favourite from the series, gave him a score of 28.5.
Public votes then got him through to the final routine, the bolero, against Jorgie Porter, before he was crowned the champion.
“This has been one of the best experiences of my life. If I got asked to do it again I don’t know if I would. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. I cannot believe we have won,” he said.
“At the beginning I felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps back and spent a lot of time sat on the ice. I thought I had made the worst mistake of my life and my career,” he laughed.
His dad, Ian, said it was fantastic that Matthew had won. “I think he worked really hard at it and he has done really well,” he said. “We were hoping he would win but it was a tough competition especially with the final three.
“Chico had been the most improved and Jorgie was so beautiful and graceful so it was difficult to call. All three did fantastic on the night.
“Matthew’s showcase routine was fantastic and he worked with Nina on the ideas. He put his input in but Nina also had a big part in working with him to make sure it was all right. She worked very hard and the coaches.
“It is a TV show but it was a skating competition. I know the public might think it is just something on TV but they were really competitive, they all wanted to do well. You could see when they were eliminated they were disappointed.”
Matthew’s uncle, Martin, who also works at Brighouse High School, where Matthew attended said the family was extremely proud. “Whatever Matthew does he does to the best of his ability and he will have been competing against himself rather than anyone else.
“He entered the competition in the correct spirit, to work and train hard. Charley, his fiancee, was a fantastic support and never missed a weekend at the live shows.
“I think his performance on Sunday to Singing in the Rain really summed him up. He showcased what he was good at, he looked good and he had the timing and the skating skills. I think he did a lot of skating on his own and showed what he could do.
“We were chuffed as a family that he did well and we are all pleased he won. He did us all proud. He is a worker and a good lad and he deserves it.”
Beattie Horsfall, who lives at Norwood Green, where Matthew grew up, voted for him several times. “He was brilliant. He is a lovely lad and always has been. I kept voting for him but I thought from the beginning he was good.
“I was talking to Charley last week and she said they thought he might win but anything could happen on the day. Matthew has always been a lovely young man. He always waves to me and stops to talk to everybody who knows him.
“His showcase routine was fantastic and I think it would have taken some beating. He has been in show business, done acting and dancing which I think helps.
“I think all the village was watching and I was screaming and jumping up and down when he won.”
His former A-level art teacher Angela Vickerson from Brighouse High said: “What you see is what you get with Matthew. That winning smile and his determination.
“He hasn’t changed over the years, he is the kind of character that never gives up and I am really pleased he won it. He will have worked really hard and trained like nobodies business.
“He will have loved getting involved in the choreography and having his own ideas. He was always very positive and a lovely lad. I wish him every success.”
Several students from Brighouse High have been supporting the former student, including Lydia Oakland from Brighouse.
She said: “I have voted for him over the series but especially on Sunday. I thought he was really good even from the beginning.”
Freya Begley from Hipperholme agreed. “You could tell he was the stronger skater and deserved to win.”