YOUNG boppers will be a step ahead of the competition – thanks to their new dance hall.

Pupils of all ages celebrated the opening of the £700,000 hall at Bolton St Catherine’s Academy.

British Paralympian swimmer Claire Cashmore and Rachael MacKenzie, a world champion Thai-boxer, were invited to officially open it. Claire, the Rio 2016 Paralympic Gold and Silver medallist, spoke about her career and watched performances in the new space by pupils.

Claire said: “I am delighted to be here to open the dance hall today and I wish there had been such a wonderful facility at my school.”

The dance hall was built as part of a plan to extend the primary school sector. Two extra classrooms were also created for small group work to be carried out in.

Melanie Wharton, from the school, said: “The dance hall will be used to develop the curriculum for both our primary students who already have dance lessons with Emma Kay, our secondary students and our sixth form students.

“It will give the students involved in the ‘Giselle’ ballet project with the English National Ballet Company a brand new performance and rehearsal space.

“Nathaniel Elechi in year nine, and Joseph Leake in year seven, who are both involved with the project, are so excited and looking forward to using the hall.”

The two gave a performance from the ballet while year two pupils showcased their dancing skills to the guests. Nathaniel said:”I loved every minute of dancing for everyone.”

Joseph added: “I have never danced in front of an audience before so I was quite nervous.”

The sixth form sports studies group described the visit as “inspirational” as they met sports stars who “have achieved the highest possible levels in their sporting fields”.

The dance hall will also be used by the community with ‘Fit Mamas’ being held there with mums come to class with their baby or toddler and exercise together.

Mrs Wharton said: “We are aiming to encourage any local fitness instructor or business to book and use the facility to promote physical exercise to increase wellness in the local community. We have a number of other courses due to launch in the next few weeks.” Local Morris Dancers AJays are ready to move into the dance hall to take advantage of the facilities.